This story broke yesterday as geologists and car lovers took notice of this very unusual incident.
Corvettes fall into sinkhole at National Corvette Museum – CNN.com.
Eight valuable ‘vettes at Bowling Green, Kentucky’s National Corvette Museum fell victim to a 40-foot-wide, 20-foot-deep sinkhole that opened up in the facility’s yellow Sky Dome wing. The museum unofficially estimates it caused millions of dollars in damage.
Motion detectors alerted security that something was amiss shortly after 5:30 a.m., said museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli. An employee who first walked into the room “has been in shock all day,” she said.
“When you go in there, it’s unreal,” said Frassinelli. “The hole is so big, it makes the Corvettes look like little Matchbox cars.
Take a look at the video. You can see they sent in remote quadcopters with cameras to view the damage since sinkholes are unstable and the flooring is unsafe to walk on since the support may be removed. But they were able to remove the other cars on the surface and the ones in the hole.
Since this story is everywhere, I thought I’d give you a bit more on the geology of why this happened. Being very familiar with large sinkholes swallowing the ground, I’m used to seeing the interaction of karst with human society. It ain’t pretty but it is fascinating and an enormous challenge.
Notice in the video, the hole has pillars and masses of rock – the light-colored stuff, limestone/dolomite – that are irregular in distribution. In this area of karst topography, the bedrock is commonly “pinnacled” where the limestone has eroded away along fractures. Here is a visual example of that (location unknown but it gives you an idea)…
The uneven bedrock surface grades upward from solid rock to rotten rock (eroding) to clay soil material.
Movement of water underground (karst hydrology) causes the clay and loose material to move through the open fractures and solution cavities. This has the potential to allow for great volumes of material to migrate downward into open spaces in the rock, causing support to the surface to erode – like sand leaking through an hourglass. When the land surface is no longer supported, a sudden collapse can occur. Typically it is foreshadowed by cracks in the surface or noticable depressions, but not always.
The museum dome housing the expensive cars was constructed above a cave. Over time, the loose material migrated into the void and the floor catastrophically collapsed. The Bowling Green area of Western Kentucky is well-known for sinkhole problems due to the limestone/dolomite bedrock. (Nearby is Mammoth Cave National Park) I wonder how they did not have any warning from cracking of the pavement or slight sinking or did not do underground remote sensing to see if the ground was prone to collapse before building. The sinkhole does appear to be local in this 40 area and the building itself is not compromised.
Geologists are investigating the collapse. It will not be easily fixed. Perhaps the cars may be restored. It is fortunate that the incident did not occur during visitor hours or we could have had a repeat of the Florida tragedy last year.
The point I’d like to reiterate is that sinkholes are NATURAL but are exacerbated by human action on the surface. When we disturb the natural layers or change the hydrology (water movement), we can hasten the collapse. If we are unaware of what lies beneath, we can have such losses. Sinkholes have NOTHING to do with earth changes or end times, etc. They have always happened and always will. It’s just that now, we put things on top that we mourn when they fall in and the news reports it.
- Sinkhole gobbles up eight vintage Corvettes at Kentucky museum | Reuters.
- Eight vintage Corvettes swallowed by 40-foot sinkhole inside National Corvette Museum | The Verge.
Some similar sinkhole catastrophes:
- The earth opened and swallowed him up | Doubtful News.
- Huge Center City Sinkhole Buckles Corporate Plaza Teetering Office Building Forces Area Evacuations – Morning Call.
- Route 33 Bridge in Fast Lane.
- Man dies in China sinkhole tragedy caught on camera | Doubtful News.
- Sinkhole causes Central Florida resort to collapse