Sinkhole Study Aims To Reveal Vulnerabilities Across Florida

Jul 7, 2014

Two geologists at the FGS are studying the factors that lead to sinkholes.
Credit Nick Evans

State geologists have completed a survey of sinkhole formations in three North Florida Counties.  Officials say this study will help predict which areas are most at risk for sinkholes in the future.

Over the past year, Clint Kromhout and Alan Baker of the Florida Geological Survey have studied sinkholes in Hamilton, Columbia, and Suwannee counties.  Kromout says they chose the area because of its varied terrain.

“It was important to pick an area of the state that had a good amount of geomorphic diversity and it just so happens that Suwanne-Hamilton-Columbia has quite a bit of geomorphic diversity,” Kromhout says.

Kromhout and Baker have completed the initial study.  The end result is a kind of heat map indicating which regions are most likely to get sink holes and a better understanding of the factors that could cause them. 

But Kromhout cautions the map focuses on broad areas.

“If we can get the scales down far enough, maybe neighborhood to county scale – that would be ideal.  Right now we’re shooting for at best county, and we’re going to try to improve from there,” Kromhout says.

The Florida Department of Emergency Management funded the study in response to a rash of sinkholes in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby in 2012.  Kromhout and Baker say the statewide project will be done in the summer of 2016.