Depressions, sinkholes, and how to find out if you live near one

Pasco County

HUDSON, Fla (WFLA) – Reports released Monday revealed a total of 16 depressions had opened up in Pasco County – and they may still be increasing in size.

Pasco County officials said Tuesday that four additional depressions were discovered, all showing signs of growth.

Depressions are sinkholes that move more slowly, according to Dr. Philip Van Beynen, an associate professor at the University of South Florida’s School of Geoscience.

“In a sinkhole, there is some void or a cave that allows sediment on the surface,” Van Beynen said. “A depression is when you have that happening but instead of a sudden collapse, there is a slow peculation of fine sediment being washed into a void.

According to United States Geological Survey, Florida is one of the states that has dealt with the most sinkholes, because of the limestone land surface.

On average, 6,500 sinkhole insurance claims are reported each year in the Sunshine State. In 2010, more than 3,000 reports of depressions and sinkholes were reported to the Pasco County Property Appraiser office, according to spokeswoman Sandy Goldberg.

So far in 2019, Pasco officials have received nearly 300 calls about depressions and sinkhole activity.

Sinkholes

Reported sinkhole/depression activity in Pasco County by year. Hover over the bars to see the numbers.

 

Source: Pasco County Property Appraiser

Pasco County Emergency Management Services have suggested that the estimated 10 inches of rain that fell last week may be to blame. Van Beynen agrees.

“We’ve had quite a lot of rain lately, so just the weight of these materials being washed down into the void could be a cause,” Van Beynen said. “The best thing to do is to fill that void and pump concrete as soon as possible to reduce the likelihood of the depression expanding.”

But that could be a costly repair.

On Monday, the Pasco County officials said the responsibility of filling in the void beneath the depressions will fall on the HOA since the depression is on private property.

One small sinkhole with minimal damage to a structure may cost between $10,000 to $15,000.

The Florida Geological Survey maintains a database of reported subsidence incidents reported data that covers reported depressions and sinkholes starting in 1954. While the database isn’t perfect, it gives the best glimpse into recorded sinkhole data since the mid-1950s.

Pasco residents can also see if their homes are at risk of dealing with a depression or sinkhole at this website.

“To be honest, without knowing the absolute geology of what’s beneath the ground, you just don’t know and can’t predict when or how often,” Van Beynen said. “However, it’s good to be aware of what’s happening beneath the ground in your neighborhood.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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