The science of sinkholes: Common, but rarely catastrophic

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 1, 2013   View Article

A Florida man is missing after an apparent sinkhole opened in his bedroom in the middle of the night, sucking him and his bed deep into the earth. As frightening as it sounds, sinkholes happen all the time, according to geologists. Usually, though, they are slow-motion processes that can take years.

Sinkholes of the sort that swallowed the Florida man form when slightly acidic groundwater dissolves limestone or similar rock that lies beneath the soil creating a large void or cavities. When the overlying ceiling can no longer support the weight of the soil and whatever is on top of it, the earth collapses into the cavity.

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