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Sinkhole Swallows Florida Man; Is It Possible in PA?

Pennsylvania named as top seven states in which sinkholes occur. Could this happen closer to home?

. have been following the ongoing case of a Florida man who was swallowed by a massive sinkhole while he slept. The news has the nation wondering how this could happen.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) knows exactly how such things happen. The holes are "an area of ground that has no natural external surface drainage," according to the USGS website. "When it rains, all of the water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the subsurface." 

When the rock surrounding the surface is saturated with water, it will "naturally be dissolved by ground water circulating through them," according to USGS.

But what does a massive sinkhole in Florida have to do with Pennsylvania? Along with the Sunshine State, Pennsylvania is listed in the top seven states in the nation to have such sizeable sinkholes.

"The most damage from sinkholes tends to occur in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania," said the USGS site.

Just this past spring, a sizeable hole caused a major mess for traffic in King of Prussia. When the intersection at Crooked and Manor lanes was replaced with a sinkhole, many went without water service. A Pennsylvania American Water line cracked in the creation of the sinkhole, taking hours to repair.

Another sinkhole was created in April 2012 in Forks Township in the Lehigh Valley, putting a nearby elementary school's staff on edge. 

Just today (Friday), reported that an underground cement box created a massive sinkhole in a parking lot.

According to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) of Pennsylvania, the state is filled with developments on areas of rock that often have been known to cause sinkholes.

As you can see from the enclosed mapping created by DCNR of Montgomery County, there are many locations in which are built upon "non-carbonate rock." Those areas are designated in purple.

DCNR's website explains that sinkholes don't occur ONLY in the areas of purple, but do have a greater likelihood in those spots.

"Sinkholes can occur in areas where no karst features have been observed," said the DCNR-PA website. "The occurrence of sinkholes, therefore, is not restricted to the high-density areas delineated on the map."

In short, with the types of rock the state of Pennsylvania is built upon, it is very likely that sizeable sinkholes can (and clearly do) happen in the area.

Mike Shortall Sr March 02, 2013 at 06:23 AM
Also, when they were rebuilding the I-76/202 interchange in King of Prussia they had a HUGE sinkhole problem. They even built an on-site slurry factory because of the amount they needed to fill in the cavities.
sharon shafer March 03, 2013 at 04:27 AM
I grew up in King of Prussia- literally watched "The Plaza" being constructed. The adjoining field- now "The Court"- was constructed over acres and acres of small sink holes. That field was fenced off for years as too hazardous to walk on. I've often wondered when it would cave in.
Linda Clark March 03, 2013 at 06:34 AM
My ex husband told me that King of Prussia was filled with sinkholes that were made worse with all the construction going on. One of the neighbors lost her entire yard about 10 years back from a sinkhole. They are constantly occurring in King of Prussia.
jxjipper March 04, 2013 at 01:27 AM
That's a real bite in the neck!
jxjipper March 04, 2013 at 01:39 AM
What a silly premise for an article. Like we've never had sinkholes around here or in the mining regions Coaldale, Hazelton area, Lehigh Valley, etc. If the nation really "wonders how this could happen" they'd better start paying attention. Maybe Obama can appoint a new Czar to Cabinet position "The Ministry of the Bloody Obvious" to address the possibilities. I'm surprised nobody has blamed Global Warming, Cooling, Raining, Drought but it's still early in the process. Condolences to the family by the way. I'm sure some people are just pleased their name was Bush! Check the lefty web sites for chirps of glee wishing it had been the other Bush family.

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