Could the giant, 60-feet wide, 30-story-deep sinkhole
that has already swallowed a building and claimed the life of at least one man in Guatemala City be increasing in size and appetite?
That's the theory posited by at least one expert, Dr. James Currens, a hydrogeologist from the University of Kentucky who was interviewed on Tuesday by National Geographic
. According to Currens, "depending on the makeup of the subsurface layer, the Guatemala sinkhole 'could eventually enlarge and take in more buildings.'"
The phenomenon of rapidly growing sinkholes
is well documented
, but the Guatemala case stands out precisely because the sinkhole is so enormous and in such an inconvenient location, at a major intersection. The sinkhole's potential growth is also problematic for repair efforts
, as no work can be begun safely until the sinkhole has reached an equilibrium and stops...well, sinking
, which could take up to several more days.
Compounding the situation is the fact that more such sinkholes are likely to appear due to the area's "karst topography," defined by Watersheds.org
as "a landscape created by groundwater dissolving sedimentary rock such as limestone."
Spanish news service Laininformacion
points out the fact that Guatemala City authorities had long known about the risks posed by this type of environment, especially after a 2007 sinkhole killed three nearby, but had not taken steps to reinforce the drainage tunnels running underneath.
Image courtesy the Government of Guatemala