Sinkholes: When the Earth Opens Up

The ground beneath our feet, our cars, our buildings, appears to be incredibly solid. But, rarely, that solid ground can simply open up without warning, dropping whatever was above into an unpredictably deep.hole. Sinkholes can be anywhere from a few feet wide and deep, to two thousand feet in diameter and depth. An undiscovered cavern or deep mine can collapse, allowing the ground above to crater, or a broken water main or heavy storm can erode a hole from below, until the surface becomes a thin shell that collapses at once. Communities built atop karst formations are very susceptible, where a layer of bedrock is water-soluble, like limestone, and natural processes can wear away caves and fissures, weakening support of the ground above. Gathered here are images of some of these sinkholes, both man-made and natural, around the world.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • NASA / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 8/22-8/28

    Hikers on a moonlit night in Mexico, a massive ball pit in Washington, D.C., Usain Bolt taken down by a Segway in China, a squirrel monkey riding a capybara in Japan, and much more.

  • Abd Doumany / AFP / Getty

    Syria’s Children

    Four and a half years of violent conflict have destroyed entire regions of Syria. Caught in the middle of all this horror are the children of Syria, relying on parents who have lost control of their own lives and are now being forced to make difficult choices in desperate circumstances.

  • Jeff Vinnick / Reuters

    20 Years Ago This Week: A Look Back at 1995

    A look back at news images from the last week in August, 1995, two decades ago.

  • Carlos Barria / Reuters

    New Orleans, 10 Years After Katrina

    A decade ago, Hurricane Katrina triggered floods that inundated New Orleans and killed more than 1,800 people as storm waters overwhelmed levees and broke through floodwalls on August 29, 2005.

Join the Discussion