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Why Is Florida Prone to Sinkholes?

Florida has more sinkholes than any state in the nation

A portion of a building rests in a sinkhole Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, in Clermont, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Sections of a building at a resort near Orlando's theme park district collapsed into a sinkhole late Sunday, forcing the evacuation of 105 guests in the structure and also dozens of visitors staying in two adjacent three-story buildings.

Sinkholes are as much a part of the Florida landscape as palm trees and alligators. Florida has more of them than any state in the nation. Earlier this year, a man near Tampa died when a sinkhole opened up underneath his bedroom.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Astonishing Sinkholes Around the World
SinkholeExperts say sinkholes aren't occurring at a greater rate than usual but that the high-profile nature of recent one in populated areas has drawn attention to them. There also has been a rise in sinkhole claims in Florida, but insurance officials believe some of those claims are questionable. Here are some answers about why sinkholes form and their costs.

WHY ARE THERE SINKHOLES IN FLORIDA?

Florida's peninsula is made up of porous carbonate rocks such as limestone that store and help move groundwater. Dirt, sand and clay sit on top of the carbonate rock. Over time, these rocks can dissolve from an acid created from oxygen in water, creating a void underneath the limestone roof. When the dirt, clay or sand gets too heavy for the limestone roof, it can collapse and form a sinkhole. Sinkholes are caused naturally but they can be triggered by outside events.

WHAT TRIGGERS SINKHOLES?

Although sinkholes are formed naturally, they can be triggered by heavy rainfall, drought followed by heavy rainfall, tropical storms and human activity. The most common actions by humans that cause sinkholes are heavy pumping of groundwater to spray on oranges and strawberries during freezes to keep them from being damaged, well drilling, excavating, creating landfills, leaking broken water lines and pounding or blasting from construction.

WHERE ARE SINKHOLES MOST COMMON IN FLORIDA?

Three counties in the Tampa region are known as "sinkhole alley." Two-thirds of the sinkhole damage claims reported to the state Office of Insurance Regulation from 2006 to 2010 came from Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Sinkholes are less common in South Florida, home to the state's two most populous counties: Broward and Miami-Dade.

HOW MANY SINKHOLES OCCUR IN FLORIDA?

The state Office of Insurance Regulation says reported claims from sinkholes have risen in recent years. More than 2,300 claims were reported in Florida in 2006 but that figure jumped to almost 6,700 claims in 2010. There is no geological explanation for the rise and state insurance officials believe many claims are questionable. There must be structural damage to a home for a policyholder to claim a loss from a sinkhole, but insurance officials say claims are often paid without that proof.

HOW MUCH DAMAGE DO SINKHOLES DO?

The state Office of Insurance Regulation says sinkhole claims in Florida cost insurers $1.4 billion from 2006 to 2010.

RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Astonishing Sinkholes Around the World

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pipernelson-lucas

since the sixties???? really?! what is your definition of racist? actually scratch that..sadly, I am pretty sure i have heard your version of racist, far too often.

August 15 2013 at 7:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nnojr

Florida, really? Have you ever seen the Florida Peninsula from Google maps? With the highest elevation at 9 feet in most southern areas, this land is not the least bit stable! All the fresh water lakes and everglades, this place is a catastrophe waiting to happen! Then take all the retirement communities they built on swamps and their is your recipe for death! If you add the least amount of Global warming and the extreme ice melt in the North pole, wow, Florida is going to sink and God Help us if there is ever an Earth Quake near! I don't give the southern parts of Florida two decades!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August 14 2013 at 6:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tjw1031

interesting

August 14 2013 at 6:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LL2Shews

Tampa has store & recovery wells. when the city utility dept started drilling in my neighborhood, we organized and hired a lawyer. The lawyer sent an engineer to meet with a few of us & explained that pumping water in and out of the aquifir would eventually cause sink holes. We arranged a neighborhood meeting in which the water company officials explained what they were doing and why. Then they took questions. I questioned their role in taking responsibility when sink holes start occuring and their answer was that they would take responsibility. We will see.

August 14 2013 at 5:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
valgaavmiko

If you want to talk about drilling, it does have some incidental part in sinkhole issues. We have altered the carbon cycle and therefore have more carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere exceeding the natural rate. Because of this, weather patterns are altered (including causing droughts and changes in the water cycle). When there are droughts, we use water. Because of excess water consumption, we cause sinkholes.

August 14 2013 at 4:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mchorak214

My husband and I think that the government is drilling way down below and this is the reason there are sink holes

August 14 2013 at 3:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mchorak214

I thin and my husband thinks they are drilling way down in the ground and that is why there are sink holes

August 14 2013 at 3:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
adika3z

what city in there,
many sinkholes are gonig to cavens,
maybe right

August 14 2013 at 3:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jessica's Daddy

Don't be silly people.... Taking oil from the earth create voids or air pockets. The air pockets will eventually rise to the earths surface, like an air bubble in water. If this truth is exposed oil companies would have to come up with more creative ways to replace the oil or fill the gaps. Which will cost more money, in turn would make gas prices rise. It's all about the DOLLAR.

August 14 2013 at 2:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hotrodra

Al Sharpton, Jessie Jack$ss & Rev. White ARE THE BIGGEST RACIST THIS COUNTRY HAS SEEN SINCE THE SIXTY'S!!!!!!!!!!!! OH AND LETS NOT FORGET THOSE BLACK PANTHERS EITHER.

August 14 2013 at 2:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hotrodra's comment
BillR

Just looking at your avatar and reading your remark tells me a lot. When is your next klan meeting?

August 14 2013 at 3:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BillR's comment
jjaxar

What for telling the truth that Al Sharpton (let me throw in Eric Holder and Hussein Obama while we are at it) is a racist or that the New Black Panthers weren't provided a GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD when Eric holder's INJUSTICE DEPT let them off the hook for voter intimidation the evidence of which was on video tape. They didn't even bother to try to defend the charges because there was no defense. Eric Holder says that white people have not suffered like HIS PEOPLE have? WTF is that all about? That doesn't inspire me with confidence to hear that the leader of the Injustice Department has a group of people he identifies as HIS people. I'm sick and tired of EVERYTHING/ANYTHING BEING RACIST - you can't say anything that someone can't turn into racial bullshit and you are a prime example.

August 14 2013 at 6:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
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