Environment

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38: Sinkhole Eats Guatemala City

By Andrew MosemanDec 16, 2010 12:00 AM

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A hundred feet deep and nearly 70 feet wide, a giant sinkhole devoured a clothing factory in Guatemala City suddenly on May 30. Sinkholes typically form when ground­water washes away soluble bedrock like limestone. However, Daniel Doctor of the U.S. Geological Survey says this gaping pit probably formed due to faulty underground infrastructure, such as leaky sewer lines that eroded surrounding sediment over the course of many years. A foot of rain dumped by tropical storm Agatha was probably the final straw. While Doctor says sinkholes this deep are extremely uncommon, “human activities cause minor ones to form almost anywhere there’s a large city.”

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