Sinkhole Apocalypse at McCauley Sinks: Is Part of Arizona Being Swallowed by Giant Sinkholes?

The McCauley Sinks, in the Holbrook basin of northeastern Arizona, are comprised of some 50 individual sinkholes within a 3-km-wide depression.

The sinks are grouped in a semi-concentric pattern of three nested rings. The outer ring is an apparent tension zone containing ring fractures. The two inner rings are semi-circular chains of large sinkholes, ranging up to 100 m across and 50 m deep.

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The McCauley Sinks lie south of Winslow along the western edge of Permian salt in the Holbrook basin.

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Such large evaporite rock formations are all good if everything stays stable. But as shown by the U.S. Geological Survey, several sub-basins within the larger depression show local downwarping and possible incipient sinkholes.

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This is actually no wonder when you learn that the main surface lithology is a limestone – Permian Kaibab Formation limestone – a passive rock unit that collapses into solution cavities developed in underlying salt beds.

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UWis

Moreover, giant earth cracks are opening up in the dry ground of Navajo County!

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The Richards Lake depression, 5 km southeast of McCauley Sinks, is similar in form and size but contains only a single, central sinkhole. Meteor Crater (photo below) is also in the region, 20 miles west of Winslow, AZ.

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If you want to know more about this mysterious sinkhole formation area in Arizona, read this scientific publication.

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