Huge Sinkhole Opens in St. Albans in England

A large (66 ft x 33 ft) sinkhole has opened in a street in St. Albans. (Hertsfordshire Fire and Rescue Service/BBC)

A large (66 ft x 33 ft) sinkhole has opened in a street in St. Albans. (Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service/BBC)

Huge Sinkhole Opens in St. Albans in England

A large sinkhole (now 66 ft by 33 ft) has opened in a residential street in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. The hole opened with a crash during the night of 30 September-1 October, and continued to grow during daylight hours. Five homes had to be evacuated, and twenty people taken to a nearby emergency center.

Gemma and Ben Bagshaw heard a rumbling noise during the night and called the police. Ben said, “I said to my wife ‘the road’s disappeared’. We told the neighbours, some of them were still asleep, I started chucking stones at their windows to wake them up.”  Gemma, who is nine months’ pregnant, said,  “If this doesn’t bring the labour on I don’t know what will.”

The story began last week when residents noticed a small hole  in the roadway. The hole was scheduled to be repaired, but some residents feel the problem began even earlier, when the local water authority announced a water main break under the street.

The land beneath St. Albans is mainly soft, chalky stone. In the Cretaceous Period, southeast England was under a shallow sea, with marine organism shells slowly becoming fossilized over time into chalk. Chalk and limestone geology are prone to dissolving in water, and caves and channels form beneath the ground. Eventually, the top layer of earth can collapse into one of these spaces, creating a sinkhole. Aging infrastructure leading to water main breaks and formation of sinkholes is becoming a problem for the developed world.

Aerial view of the sinkhole that opened in St. Alban's (theguardian.com)

Aerial view of the sinkhole that opened in St. Alban’s (theguardian.com)

Fifty-eight local homes are without gas, water, and electric services. Local authorities are on the scene and promise full support for the community while the situation is being resolved.

What role do you think infrastructure plays in the formation of sinkholes? What should we be doing to prevent or mitigate these local disasters?

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Staff Writer

Leo Ashcraft

A retired broadcast engineer, talk show host, news reporter - I have done everything there is to do in the radio broadcast business. I worked a year in television. I left that as my true passion has always been radio - plus I got tired of hearing - you have a face for radio.. I hope you enjoy my articles! Be sure to share them excessively on facebook - like our page and bug your friends with invites!

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