Top 5 Startling Sinkhole Facts

VOICE OVER: Chris Masson
Script written by William Regot

They pop up out of nowhere, and they'll take you down with them. Welcome to Watchmojo's Top 5 Facts. Today, we'll be taking a look at sinkholes, those massive underground holes you never knew were there until it's too late. Thinking of a trip to Central Florida? Considering putting limestone down for your new home's foundation? You might want to watch this video first.

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Written by William Regot

Top 5 Startling Sinkhole Facts

They pop up out of nowhere, and they’ll take you down with them. Welcome to Watchmojo’s Top 5 Facts. Today, we’ll be taking a look at sinkholes, those massive underground holes you never knew were there until it’s too late.

#5: Sinkholes are Caused by Erosion

Sinkholes form in areas where the ground is made of soluble bedrock such as limestone or dolomite. Water seeps into the ground making cracks in the bedrock until it is completely dissolved. When the layer of ground above can no longer be supported by bedrock, it collapses into the ground. Another factor which causes sinkholes is human activity. Poor infrastructure like broken sewer pipes can cause flooding underground which accelerates the erosion process. This is a problem in cities and leads to sinkholes under roads, making you late on your morning commute. Sometimes, very late.

#4: Central Florida is Sinkhole Alley

As if gators, hurricanes, and rising sea levels weren’t enough of a problem, anywhere you step in Florida, you run the risk of falling into a sinkhole. Between 2006 and 2010, Florida insurance companies received 24,000 sinkhole related claims which totaled 1.4 billion dollars. There have been over 3,400 sinkholes reported in the Sunshine State since 1954, and four deaths including Jeffrey Bush. This Tampa resident was fast asleep in his bedroom when a sinkhole opened up underneath, pulling him in. Hearing Jeffrey’s screams, Jeffrey’s brother tried to get him out, but Jeffrey’s body was never recovered.

#3: Sinkholes Can Be HUGE

Not all sinkholes are created equal. Many are only a few feet in depth and often go unreported. But then there are sinkholes which are impossible to ignore. 75 miles wide and 50 miles long, the Qattara Depression in Egypt is the world’s largest natural sinkhole. For over a century, various groups have proposed using it to generate hydroelectricity by connecting it to the nearby Mediterranean Sea, but no dice yet. At 2172 feet, the deepest sinkhole in the world is Xiaozhai Tienkeng, the “Heavenly Pit,” which would be large enough for the Shanghai Tower to fit in. There’s one in Berezneki, Russia called the “Grandfather” which was 130 feet wide 650 deep when it formed in 2007 and grew to be over 1000 feet wide and 780 feet deep by 2012.

#2: Sinkholes Aren’t All That Deadly, but They are Costly

The spectacular 2007 Guatemala sinkhole which killed three people has the highest death count in recent memory, but in most cases, you’ll be able to dust yourself off with minor injuries. What’s more likely to hurt is your pocketbook. In 1981, a sinkhole developed in Winter Park, Florida which swallowed up a three-bedroom house, a car dealership with five Porsches, and the deep end of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, causing four million dollars in damage. In 2014, eight cars valued at one million dollars from the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky fell into sinkhole. They were all recovered, but only three of them were repairable. However, there was a silver lining for the museum, because...

#1: People Would Rather See Sinkholes Than Corvettes

A few months after the Corvette museum incident, attendance increased 59 percent because of interest in the wreckage. To recoup some of their losses, the museum sold more than 2,300 jars containing remnants of the sinkhole at 10 dollars a pop. If you’re looking for something more high brow in sinkhole tourism, you can check out the cenotes along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. From the Mayan for “well,” cenotes are freshwater sinkholes which formed millions of years ago in limestone depressions. They are often connected to underground caves and attract swimmers and scuba divers from all over the world. At the bottom of some cenotes, archaeologists have found skeletons believed to be human sacrifices to the Mayan god of rain.

So, what do you think? Are you a little bit worried about the ground beneath you now? For more earth-shattering Top 10s and hole-in-the-ground Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to