Last week, the eerie case of the Seffner, Florida sinkhole that swallowed a bedroom and the man who was in that room while the rest of the house remained in place took over the national news. Now, another sinkhole has developed a few miles away that will probably entomb another house. As well, for a completely different reason, southern Louisiana has been dealing with a huge sinkhole that has taken over nearly 10 acres and keeps growing. Why are sinkholes occurring?


In the Gulf South, this time of year is the beginning of the rainy season. Because of the industrial development that has grown in the region, similarly to what happened in the northeast a generation ago, rain has turned into acid rain. Since much of the terrain is formed of limestone, acid rain wears away at weak spots causing the earth to collapse. As well, throughout this region, there are caverns below the surface. So, dry weather weakens the structure; then, the wet season collapses the earth. That is what is happening in Florida.

The sinkhole in Assumption Parish in Louisiana has been caused by something different. This parish is about 50 miles south of Baton Rouge. Here, we don’t believe that there should be any impediments to industrial growth, regardless of the effects upon the natural beauty of the state. So, every year, our bayous dry up, making much of the southern part of the state more conducive to events like sinkholes. Now, the natural gas extraction industry has grown throughout the state as well.

In this case, Texas Brine purchased many of the caverns in the parish to extract natural gas. Allegedly, one of their production holes collapsed causing the sinkhole to begin to form. Texas Brine denies the charges. Since last summer, over 150 homes have been forcibly evacuated, although some residents have decided to return to the area, since it is now quiet. The sinkhole grows weekly, and the area is filled with water, natural gas, and brine.