Parts of Tennessee prone to sinkholes - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Parts of Tennessee prone to sinkholes

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In June, 2012, a large sinkhole opened up near Pikeville, TN. In June, 2012, a large sinkhole opened up near Pikeville, TN.
CHATTOOGA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -

It's no secret: the Tennessee Valley isn't immune from sinkholes. Geologists warn parts of Tennessee are indeed prone to sinkholes. Channel 3 found several instances of the ground opening up in our own backyard.

Amy Brock-Hon teaches Geology at UTC and shared with Channel-3 a map of sinkholes in Hamilton County. The map is 40 years old but our area's Geology is mostly the same. The map has large purple dots where sinkhole features have been documented.

Generally speaking, Brock-Hon said sinkholes happen to form away from our most urban areas. But in just the past year alone, Channel 3 found at least three sinkholes in populated areas in Hamilton County.

"You can say this is a region that is prone to sinkhole development," she said.

Simply put, sinkholes form from Karst. It's the result of acidic water dissolving bedrock.

"As you lower the groundwater level, you may see more collapse occurring on that landscape," she said.

Brock-Hon said there's two types of sinkholes: solution sinkholes and collapsed sinkholes. Solution sinkholes develop gradually over time whereas collapsed sinkholes happen instantly like in Florida, she said.

Brock-Hon doesn't want you to worry about the earth eating your house. But if you are, there is sinkhole insurance. A NBC News report said Florida law requires insurers to cover "catastrophic ground cover collapse.'

Remarkably no one was killed in a Florida sinkhole that destroyed a resort Sunday where more than 100 people stayed.

More information:

USGS explains Karst & Sinkholes

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