There were a series of sinkholes that opened across the Hamilton County area over the weekend.

One sinkhole, in a parking lot off Highway 153, was caused by a new pipe.

“It just weakened the integrity of the ground under the parking lot so it gave way,” Firehouse Subs District Manager Scott Royals explained.

Now, crews are working to fill the sinkhole. Royals said he’s happy with how quickly the property owner is fixing the problem.

“Anytime you develop a piece of property, there’s going to be environmental issues you have to deal with,” Royals said.

There were also two other sinkholes near homes in Hixson.

“We have a potential for sinkholes [in Chattanooga],” UTC Geology professor Azad Hossain explained.

Hossain studies sinkholes. He said there are three main factors that cause them: the type of rock, breaks or fractures in rock, and most importantly, water.

Hossain demonstrated how water can dissolve limestone, a popular rock in the area.

“The continuous contact with that is acidic; it will dissolve and eventually make holes,” Hossain explained.

The most recent sinkholes weren’t from natural causes, but construction can cause cracks in rocks, allowing more water to flow underground.

“After the construction has taken place, those fractures might allow water to go through,” Hossain added.

When looking around your property, check for areas where water puddles, and make sure you check for cracks in any structure’s foundation.

“If you have a house or place that is in low lying area and accumulates lots of water, you need to be worried,” Hossain said.

Hossain and his students are studying what areas in Hamilton County have seen the most sinkholes and trying to determine why. They hope the research will help warn people who are in areas more prone to sinkholes, especially before heavy rain.