How do sinkholes form?
Sinkholes are most commonly thought of as physical depressions or holes in the surface of the land. Not all sinkholes, however, are as visible or dramatic as a home or roadway falling into the ground. Many times, sinkhole activity never manifests itself on the surface of the land, making it harder to detect.
The entire state of Florida sits on top of thousands of feet of limestone. Limestone is a porous rock, capable of cracking, breaking and dissolving. The most significant factor in the development of sinkholes is the dissolution of the limestone underlying Florida by acidic waters. As water moves through the soil, it becomes more acidic as it reacts with living and decaying plant matter. This water reaches the underlying limestone, it slowly begins to dissolve the rock and creates voids and cavities. The soil resting on top of the limestone then collapses or subsides into the caverns and voids and causes sinkholes.
A rapid increase in sinkhole activity can be attributed to the development of land, which changes the earth’s surface as well as the weight or load on the soil beneath it. The creation of retention ponds, new buildings and homes, roadways, and changes in ground water levels can all trigger sinkhole activity.