Florida's Top Areas Prone to Sinkholes
Florida is more susceptible to sinkholes primarily due to the region's geology. The state is largely underlain by porous limestone, which can hold immense amounts of water in underground aquifers . As groundwater slowly flows through the limestone, it forms a landscape called karst, known for features like caves, springs, and sinkholes.
The water in aquifers also exerts pressure on the limestone and helps to stabilize the overlying surface layer, usually clay, silt, and sand. Sinkholes form when that layer of surface material caves in.
Florida Sinkhole Zones :
Sinkholes can form anywhere in Florida, but the highest activity level occurs in west central Florida because of the karst limestone environment. There are several influences that increase the risk of sinkhole activity such as long-term weather conditions, heavy acidic rains, and drought-like conditions.
Zone 1 (Yellow) : Region of exposed or thinly-covered carbonate rocks. Broad, shallow solution sinkholes dominate, with less common collapse sinkholes in areas with thicker over-burden sediments.
Cities in the zone 1 regions include Miami, Coral Springs, Hialeah, and Hollywood.
Zone 2 (Green) : Region of incohesive, permeable sand ranging from 20 to 200 feet thick. Small cover subsidence sinkholes dominate, with less-common collapse sinkholes forming in areas with clayey overburden sediments.
Cities in zone 2 include Fort Lauderdale, Port St. Lucie, and Orlando.
Zone 3 (Blue) : Region of cohesive, low-permeability clayey sediments 30 to 200 feet thick. Abruptly-forming collapse sinkholes dominate. The size of these sinkholes depends upon the thickness and bearing properties of the overburden sediments.
Cities in zone 3 include Tampa, Tallahassee, and St. Petersburg.
Zone 4 (Pink) : Region of deeply-buried carbonate rocks. Overburden sediments are primarily cohesive clayey sands and interbedded carbonates in excess of 200 feet thick. Sinkholes are uncommon, but rare deep collapse types and small subsidence sinkholes formed in shallow beds or carbonate lenses are possible.
Cities in zone 4 include Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
Sinkhole formation has accelerated over the years. They are commonly created by extended droughts, heavy rainfall, land development, water pumping, and construction of retention ponds. Sinkholes in Florida can range in size from small to large. Some become large enough to swallow homes, roads, swimming pools, and buildings.
Not only does sinkhole activity destroy structures, but they also pose an environmental concern. The carbonate rocks, which are present in sinkhole formation, provide direct access to all types of pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides. Oil and gasoline also channel directly into the sinkhole. Despite all the problems sinkholes produce, they are a natural part of the ecosystem.
Sinkhole Warning Signs :
A rapid sinkhole caused by well drilling or other sudden alterations to the terrain may not give any warning signs. Otherwise, the collapse process usually occurs gradually enough that a person may leave the affected area safely. The final breakthrough can develop over a period of a few minutes to a few hours. The final breakthrough can develop over a period of a few minutes to a few hours. With sinkholes being such a prevalent growing issue in Florida, it is important to know what to look for so you can call for a repair service before the problem becomes more dangerous.
Door, Windows, and Cabinet Problems :
Houses settle over the years, and a little unevenness isn't abnormal. When a sinkhole forms near or under your house, you'll see subtle warning signs. Doors will jam and stop latching. Windows that used to open easily become hard to open, start sticking, or won't open or close completely. You might notice that your cabinet doors and drawers sit unevenly or won't open or close properly.
Cracks Everywhere :
You could see cracks forming in your walls, especially where walls and ceilings meet and around doors and windows. You may notice cracks in tile grout, laminate, linoleum, or tile flooring that's laid over concrete. New or growing cracks are definitely worth checking into.
Separating Walls and Slanted Floors :
Walls and ceilings with gaps or separation could indicate a sinkhole. Trim and molding that's pulling away is another sign. Be warry if you feel like your house has become slanted or see warping, sagging, or bulging floors.
Water Signs :
If you notice an earthy smell after it rains that's abnormally strong, you could have a sinkhole. A wet crawl space, leaks, or flooding during rains are also signs of foundation problems. If you have a well, suddenly cloudy water or debris in the water indicates a problem.
Changes in Your Yard :
Your yard will show signs of change if a sinkhole is forming underneath it. Check your fence posts and trees for sagging or slanting. Inspect the ground around trees and posts for fresh exposure where the ground has sunk. Small, new ponds of water are a sign of a sinkhole, especially if water has never collected there before. Look for pools of water around your foundation. Similarly, if an existing pond suddenly drains that may also be a sign.
Cracks in Pavement or Concrete :
Look down your street for sinking areas or buckling. New or widening cracks in your driveway or sidewalks could mean sinkhole activity is occurring. Sinking porches and a cracked or leaning chimney are signs of foundation trouble.
All these signs, while troublesome, are not always indicative of a sinkhole forming. You should always have the area checked out by a professional to determine what exactly is causing the issue. If you suspect that you have a sinkhole, contact Cloud 9 Services, and one of our sinkhole repair contractors will inspect the area to determine the status and repair the sinkhole if necessary.