A giant sinkhole in Daisetta, Texas, is continuing to expand, swallowing trees, cars, and homes in its path. A new video released by Bluebonnet News provides a harrowing look at the massive expanse.
The sinkhole became active again this month after it first emerged in 2008 as a 20ft expanse. It remained stable for 15 years, but has since undergone rapid expansion, worrying residents of the town that their homes may be doomed if the hole continues to grow.
Daisetta is approximately 55 miles northeast of Houston.
City officials learned that the hole was again expanding on 3 April, which prompted them to notify residents in the area of the possible threat, according to My San Antonio.
Liberty County Assistant Fire marshal Nat Holcomb said the sinkhole had grown approximately 150 feet wide and 150 feet deeper, according to ABC 13. The hole is currently more than 260 feet deep and more than 1,000 feet wide.
Officials in the city have urged residents to stay away from the hole as it is currently unstable.
Though officials don’t know exactly what caused the hole — or why it is currently expanding — geologists have a theory.
Randall Orndorff, a research geologist at the US Geological Survey, told NPR the town is built on top of a salt dome. The oil and gas industry — the largest employer in Daisetta — often uses salt domes as underground storage facilities for the waste produced by the industry.
The USGS estimates that sinkholes have caused approximately $300m in damage costs each year in the US over the last 15 years, but noted that the estimate is likely lower due to a lack of reporting.
If that waste leaks — which is what some geologists theorise has happened — it can dissolve the salt, leading to wide ranging instability as the ground crumbles beneath the town.
“We just never thought it would start again,” Linda Hoover, a local resident who lives near the sinkhole, told local news KTRK. “When we bought our house a few years ago, we were under the understanding that it was stabilized.”
Ms Hoover said her greatest fear was that the hole would swallow her home at night while she and her family are asleep.
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“My worst fear is for it to overtake us at night,” Ms Hoover added. “So that’s the reason we haven’t really been able to sleep. We have packed our bags just in case and parked our cars kind of funny. So we can get out of here in a hurry if we need to.” [Independent]