Sinkholes are one of nature’s strangest and most frightening phenomenons. Though we don’t have the kinds of sinkholes that they have in places like Florida or Guatemala, we still have our fair share of these little nuisances.

What is a Sinkhole?

Basically, a sinkhole is a hole in the ground that forms when the surface layer of the ground collapses. This can happen as a result of erosion and/or when water drains downward, deeper into the Earth. Traditionally, they are caused naturally, though they can also be man-made. Here’s a pretty big one that occurred in Haiku, Maui in late August of this year.

They are more frequent and possible in places where the bedrock is soluble. Limestone and Gypsum are two examples of rocks that are water soluble, and thus are prone to sinkhole creation. Pennsylvania has quite a few sinkhole problems in Pittsburgh in particular. Here’s a sinkhole that formed back in 2009. Pretty crazy.

Sinkholes create two different kinds of danger because you can potentially fall in and the ground/surface water nearby can be contaminated. For people who live in areas where sinkholes are potential issues, vigilance is paramount to avoid long-term damage.

What About Carroll County?

Recently, there was talk of a sinkhole in Eldersburg, Maryland. It was only about eight inches wide and about three to five feet deep. According to local reports, there have been about 16 sink holes as of late August, 18th. However, there’s no need to panic. These sinkholes have been relatively harmless and quickly repaired.

However, back in 1994 a man named Robert Knight was killed when a sinkhole opened up while he was driving on route 31 in Westminster, Maryland. The sinkhole that opened up beneath him was 45 feet wide and 20 feet deep. A local geologist cited a bedrock of limestone as the cause of the sinkhole.

In 1998, a lawsuit concerning the deceased’s widow was settled for an undisclosed amount of money potentially in the millions. The lawsuit was brought against the state of Maryland and Genstar, the company operating the nearby quarry, for negligence among other charges. To give you a little perspective on her argument, you have to understand that quarries dig below the water table and pump out a lot of water during their operations. This process could have led to the weakening of the road that causes the sinkhole.

Though the state nor Genstar admitted liability, the grieving woman was compensated for her losses.