Watching Our Water Ways

Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Sinkhole madness: Yes, these things are real

August 23rd, 2013 by cdunagan

It’s comforting to know that we in the Puget Sound region are not likely to encounter sinkholes. It’s hard for me to imagine watching my house being swallowed up by a hole in the ground or feeling the terror of waking up as I fall into a deep chasm. But these things are real.

On the other hand, those of us who live in Western Washington should be prepared (as much as we can be) for an earthquake that could take down cities and change millions of lives without warning. Maybe the threat of sinkholes is not so bad after all. Still, the images of sinkholes in action are pretty fantastic.

A new video taken in a Louisiana swamp was posted on YouTube this week. It was then picked up by news organizations across the country. I’ve posted it in the video player on this page. (The real action occurs in just the first minute or so.)

The sinkhole first made itself known in June, and about 350 people have been evacuated from the area, according to a report from Elizabeth Barber of the Christian Science Monitor.

I’ve learned a lot lately about sinkholes from reading and listening. I won’t try to explain them, since others are telling the story well. Amol MHatre of CBS Sunday Morning produced a nice piece on the subject.

The U.S. Geological Survey provides several webpages that describe the phenomenon, including one linked from the map below, showing where in the U.S. sinkholes are most likely to occur.

Sinkholes

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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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