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Sinkholes in Georiga:
This article describes the location & type of sinkholes occurring in Georgia.
This article series explains what sinkholes are and why they occur, describes their effects on buildings, and gives building and site inspection advice useful in identifying areas where there is an increased risk of sink holes at properties.
The photograph (above-left) of a sinkhole opening in a residential yard in Pennsylvania, not Georgia, is from Kochanov, W.E. and illustrates the child hazard or even adult sinkhole hazard that can be formed by storm water drainage.
Explanation of causes of sinking buildings from events other than sinkholes.
Catalog of types of sink holes around the world including California, Canada, Quebec, Estonia, Guatemala, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas,Tennessee, Virginia and other states and provinces and countries. Explanation of causes of sinking buildings from events other than sinkholes.
Sinkholes have been reported in Georgia including news artilces in the Examiner (a freelance writing website) in 2014 describing an event in Atlanta that could have been related to human activity (even a burst water main) though the report attributed it to the presence of a stretch zone in the North American Tectonic plate.
That news report described other stretch-zone events including "... loud booms, moaning, humming, and other sounds coming from the ground ...".
Sinkholes occur in Georgia principally in areas located over karst formations such as the Dougherty Plain in the Albany, Georgia area, Valdosta Georgia, along the Flint River in southwest Georgia, at karst formations below Lake Seminole, and other south Georgia areas.
Lake Louise is a "coalesced" sinkhole lake found in Lowndes County, also in southern Georgia.
Sinkholes have also been studied in Southwest Georgia along the Pelham Escarpment between Bainbridge and Camilla. (Jancin 1993).
Sinkholes may also be ascribed to human activities including lowering of groundwater in some areas or use of injection wells in others. (Newton, 1987).
In general terms a sinkhole is any sudden subsidence of the earth. In more technical terms, a true "sinkhole" is a subsidence or soil collapse caused by a combination of water eroding supporting soils, rock, or limestone, and an underlying geological structure or material that is particularly vulnerable to dissolving in water.
Urban or suburban sinkholes due to burst water mains, sewer lines, or storm drains can occur almost anywhere.
Here we focus on other sinkhole types and causes including sinkholes due to geological formations, types of rock (karst formations), or due to human activities such as mining. We also discuss here sinking buildings from causes other than sinkholes.
Question: scared of sinkholes or mud explosion in Winder Georgia
2016/05/30 Sharon said:
Hi, I'm scared to death in Winder,GA. I live at the site of an inactive (at least at the moment & not since it's last week eruption in the 1800s which killed everyone in a 10 mile radius.) Mud volcano. Our yard is pasture and woods except right up by the house from the foundation out 10 feet is peat moss and lately I've been feeling like the bottom is dropping out from my feetwhile I'm in the house.
It's a three story govornors mansion style brick home built in 1967.
Almost everything is just how it was back then except the wash down slope to the side that used to lead to a huge lake wehad out back about two football fields behind our house and suddenly about a year and a half ago the damn brokeand the water went somewhere but the lake is now gone not to mention there's black quicksand down around the area outside the crater a little ways which was already there.
The Indians called this place the gateway to hell and itused to be a burning swamp. Is this house on top of a sink hole cause I'm really certain that it's not safe but I can't convince anyone to listen inside our home. Help me please.
Sharon, I found a little history, not much, of the historic mud bog explosion in Winder Georgia, often referred to as a " mud volcano ", but not much scientific data; some texts posit that the Nodoroc mud explosion in Winder was due to decaying organic matter (leaves for example) in the bog
. If that was the case, it could certainly have been a methane explosion, though what ignited the methane gas is not stated. Certainly natural forces might ignite marsh gas as might a lightning strike.
Separately from the Nodoroc mud volcano, you describe a more recent bursting of a dam in about 2014. I haven't found references to that event. You might want to see the DeKalb County, Georgia Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan, February 2011, available from the DeKalb County government at http://dunwoodyga.gov/
If there was a sudden flooding of the site where your home is located there could have been damage to your home including its foundation.
It is, however, very unlikely that substantial foundation damage or movement could occur at your home, particularly as it is a brick structure, but with no visible evidence such as foundation cracks, building areas out of level, interior cracks, or other damage. Certainly enough house movement to make you feel "the bottom dropping out from under [your] feet" would be visually apparent on the home itself.
I can thus suggest these steps:
1. ask for a local inspection of the visual condition of your home and site for evidence of structural movement or damage
2. be sure that you have working CO detectors and smoke detectors, and ask your inspector to screen the site for presence of high levels of methane or other combustible gases
3. check with your doctor about any health conditions that might explain the conditions you describe
"Sinkholes" that are not verified by a licensed professional geologist or geotechnical engineer to be a true sinkhole are also described in various publications as subsidence incidents.
The bare minimum that a property owner needs to know about sinkholes or any other sudden subsidence
of soils at a property is that these conditions might be very dangerous.
Someone falling into a sink hole
or into a collapsing septic tank could be seriously injured or even die.
If a suspicious hole, subsidence,
or depression appears at a property the owner should rope off and prevent access to the area to prevent
anyone from falling into the opening, and then should seek prompt assistance from a qualified expert,
geotechnical engineer, septic contractor, excavator, or the like.
Georgia sinkhole research
Beck, Barry F. "Sinkhole development in south Georgia and Florida, USA, and the founding of the Florida Sinkhole Research Institute." In Third International Symposium on Land Subsidence, vol. 609. 1984.
Brook, George A., and Terry L. Allison. "Fracture mapping and ground subsidence susceptibility modeling in covered karst terrain-the example of Dougherty County, Georgia." Environmental Karst (1983): 91-108.
Hyatt, James A., and Peter M. Jacobs. "Distribution and morphology of sinkholes triggered by flooding following Tropical Storm Alberto at Albany, Georgia, USA." Geomorphology 17, no. 4 (1996): 305-316.
Jancin, Mark, and David D. Clark. "Subsidence-sinkhole development in light of mud infiltrate structures within interstratal karst of the coastal plain, Southeast United States." Environmental Geology 22, no. 4 (1993): 330-336.
Leandro, Amie M., Angela Wall, James A. Hyatt, And Eric C. Brevik. "Identifying Spatial Trends In The Physical Properties Of Sediments, Lake Louise, Georgia." In Geological Society Of America Abstracts With Programs,, Vol. 37, No. 1, P. 15. 2005.
McConnell, James B., D. W. Hicks, L. E. Lowe, S. Z. Cohen, and A. P. Jovanovich. Investigation of ethylene dibromide (EDB) in ground water in Seminole County, Georgia. No. 933. USGPO,, 1984.
Newton, John G. Development of sinkholes resulting from man's activities in the eastern United States. No. 968. USGPO,, 1987.
Newton, J. G. "Natural and induced sinkhole development in the eastern United States." A. I. Johnson et al (1984): 323-331
Plummer, L. N., Eurybiades Busenberg, J. B. McConnell, Stefan Drenkard, Peter Schlosser, and R. L. Michel. "Flow of river water into a Karstic limestone aquifer. 1. Tracing the young fraction in groundwater mixtures in the Upper Floridan Aquifer near Valdosta, Georgia." Applied Geochemistry 13, no. 8 (1998): 995-1015.
Ruth, Byron E., Thomas F. Beggs, and Janet D. Degner. "Predicting sinkhole collapse." Civil Engineering—ASCE 55, no. 11 (1985): 58-60.
"Sinkhole epidemic: Georgia woman steps out front door, disappears in sinkhole", 7 February 2014, original source: http://www.examiner.com/article/sinkhole-epidemic-georgia-woman-steps-out-front-door-disappears-sinkhole
Also see NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE - home
Torak, Lynn J. Assessment of karst features underlying Lake Seminole, southwestern Georgia and northwestern Florida, using orthorectified photographs of preimpoundment conditions and hydrographic maps. Georgia Institute of Technology, 2003.
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Questions & answers or comments about sinkholes and their effects on buildings.
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 At a previous ASHI Florida conference slides of a masonry
block building repaired by AB Chance Helical Pier Co. showed step cracks at the
top of the house front wall which were diagnosed as settlement at the opposite
end of the house - structural rigidity caused cracking to telegraph to the
front; detectable by noting out-of-plumb mortar joints!
Sinkholes and Sudden Land Subsidence References, Products, Consultants
"A Hole in the Ground Erupts, to Estonia's Delight", New York Times, 9 December 2008 p. 10.
History of water usage in Estonia: (5.7 MB PDF) jaagupi.parnu.ee/freshwater/doc/the_history_of_water_usage_systems_in_estonia.pdf
"Quebec Family Dies as Home Vanishes Into Crater, in Reminder of Hidden Menace", Ian Austen, New York Times, 13 May 2010 p. A8. See http://www.nytimes.com/
"Quick Clay", Wikipedia search 5/13/2010 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quick_clay
Florida DEP - Department of Environmental Protection, & Florida Geological survey (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/default.htm) on Florida sinkholes: Effects of Sinkholes on Water Conditions Hernando County, Florida, Brett Buff, GIS in Water Resources, 2008, Dr. David R. Maidment, Photos - Tom Scott, Florida Geographic Survey - Web Search 06/09/2010 - http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/geologictopics/jacksonsink.htm
and - http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/geologictopics/sinkhole.htm
Lane, Ed, 1986, Karst in Florida: Florida Geological Survey Special Publication 29, 100 p.
Foundation Engineering Problems and Hazards in Karst Terranes, James P. Reger, Maryland Geological Survey, web search 06/05/2010, original source: http://www.mgs.md.gov/esic/fs/fs11.html Maryland Geological Survey, 2300 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
"Frost Heaving Forces in Leda Clay", Penner, E., Division of Building Research, National Research Council of Canada, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, NRC Research Press, 1970-2, Vol 7, No 1, PP 8-16, National Research Council of Canada, Accession number 1970-023601, Quoting from original source
The frost heaving forces developed under a 1 ft. (30.5 cm) diameter steel plate were measured in the field throughout one winter. The steel plate was fixed at the ground surface with a rock-anchored reaction frame. heave gauges and thermocouples were installed at various depths to determine the position and temperature of the active heaving zone. The general trend was for the surface force to increase as the winter progressed. when the frost line approached the maximum depth the force was in excess of 30,000 lb (13,608 KG). Estimates of the heaving pressure at the frost line ranged from 7 to 12 psi (0.49 to 0.84 KG/cm) square during this period. The variation of surface heaving force was closely associated with weather conditions. Warming trends resulting in a temperature increase of the frozen layer caused the forces to decline.
Leda clay slopes in the Ottawa valley are vulnerable to catastrophic landslides. More than 250 landslides, historical and ancient, large and small, have been identified within 60 km of Ottawa. Some of these landslides caused deaths, injuries, and property damage, and their impact extended far beyond the site of the original failure. In spectacular flowslides, the sediment underlying large areas of flat land adjacent to unstable slopes liquefies. The debris may flow up to several kilometres, damming rivers and causing flooding, siltation, and water-quality problems or damaging infrastructure. Geologists and geotechnical engineers can identify potential landslide areas, and appropriate land-use zoning and protective engineering works can reduce the risk to property and people.
Deposits of Leda clay, a potentially unstable material, underlie extensive areas of the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Leda clay is composed of clay- and silt-sized particles of bedrock that were finely ground by glaciers and washed into the Champlain Sea. As the particles settled through the salty water, they were attracted to one another and formed loose clusters that fell to the seafloor. The resulting sediment had a loose but strong framework that was capable of retaining a large amount of water. Following the retreat of the sea, the salts that originally contributed to the bonding of the particles were slowly removed (leached) by fresh water filtering through the ground. If sufficiently disturbed, the leached Leda clay, a weak but water-rich sediment, may liquefy and become a 'quick clay'. Trigger disturbances include river erosion, increases in pore-water pressure (especially during periods of high rainfall or rapid snowmelt), earthquakes, and human activities such as excavation
After an initial failure removes the stiffer, weathered crust, the sensitive clay liquefies and collapses, flowing away from the scar. Failures continue in a domino-like fashion, rapidly eating back into the flat land lying behind the failed slope. The flowing mud may raft intact pieces of the stiffer surface material for great distances.
Kochanov, W. E., 1999, Sinkholes in Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania
Geological Survey, 4th ser., Educational Series 11,
33 p., 3rd printing April 2005, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources / Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey, DCNR Educational Series 11, Pennsylvania Geological Survey, Fourth Series, Harrisburg,
1999 - web search 06/05/2010, original source: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/topogeo/hazards/es11.pdf - Quoting from the document introduction: The first 18 pages of this booklet contain an explanation of how sinkholes
develop. In order to tell the sinkhole story, it is important to discuss
a number of related geologic disciplines. The words used to describe sinkholes
and these disciplines may be a bit unfamiliar. However, general explanations
are given throughout the booklet to help clarify their meanings.
Key words are printed in bold type for emphasis. The more important
ones are defined in a Glossary that begins on page 29.
The remaining sections, starting with “Sinkholes in the Urban Environment”
(page 18), deal with sinkholes and their impact on our environment.
This includes recognition of subsidence features and sinkhole repair.
Thanks to reader Y.Z., Whitestone, NY for discussing a back yard collapse 4/1/2010
 Sarah Cervone, [web page] data from the APIRS database, Graphics by Ann Murray, Sara Reinhart and Vic Ramey, Vic Ramey is
the editor. DEP review by Jeff Schardt and Judy Ludlow. The web page is a
collaboration of the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida, and the Bureau of Invasive
Plant Management, Florida Department of Environmental Protection contact: email@example.com [A primary resource for this article
 Center for Cave and Karst Studies or the
Center, both at
Vanity Fair - web search 06/04/2010 http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2010/06/what-caused-the-guatemala-sinkhole-and-why-is-it-so-round.html
Sinkholes, [on file as /vision/Sinkholes_Virginia_DME.pdf ] - , Virginia Division of Mineral Resources,
Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, www.dmme.virginia.gov Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy
Division of Mineral Resources
900 Natural Resources Drive, Suite 500
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Sales Office: (434) 951-6341 FAX : (434) 951-6365
Geologic Information: (434) 951-6342
divisionmineralresources.shtml - Web search 06/09/2010
Wikipedia - web search 06/04/2010 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guatemala_City
Sink Hole & Related Engineering References
Newton, J. G., 1987, Development of sinkholes resulting from man's activities in the eastern United States: US Geological Survey Circular 968, 54 p.
Sinclair, W. C., 1982, Sinkhole development resulting from ground-water withdrawal in the Tampa Area, Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations 81-50, 19 p.
White, W. B., 1988, Geomorphology and Hydrology of Karst Terrains: Oxford University Press, New York, 464 p.
Williams, J. H. and Vineyard, J. D., 1976, Geologic indicators of subsidence and collapse in karst terrain in Missouri: Presentation at the 55th Annual Meeting, Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C.
Barry F. Beck, A. J. (1999). Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology of Sinkholes and Karst. Rotterdam, Netherlands: A. A. Balkema.
Beck, B. F. (2003). Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Karst. Huntsville, Alabama: The American Society of Civil Engineers.
Beck, B. F. (2005). Sinkholes and the Engineering and Envrionmental Impacts of Karst. San Antonio, Texas: The American Society of Civil Engineers.
Tony Waltham, F. B. (2005). Sinkholes and Subsidence, Karst and Cavernous Rocks in Engineering and Construction. Chichester, United Kingdom: Praxis Publishing.
Whitman D., G. T. (1999). Spatial Interrelationships Between Lake Elevations, Water Tables, and Sinkhole Occurence in Central Florida: A GIS Approach. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing , 1169-1178.
Diagnosing & Repairing House Structure Problems, Edgar O. Seaquist, McGraw Hill, 1980 ISBN 0-07-056013-7 (obsolete, incomplete, missing most diagnosis steps, but very good reading; out of print but used copies are available at Amazon.com, and reprints are available from some inspection tool suppliers). Ed Seaquist was among the first speakers invited to a series of educational conferences organized by D Friedman for ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors, where the topic of inspecting the in-service condition of building structures was first addressed.
"A Foundation for Unstable Soils," Harris Hyman, P.E., Journal of Light Construction, May 1995
"Backfilling Basics," Buck Bartley, Journal of Light Construction, October 1994
"Inspecting Block Foundations," Donald V. Cohen, P.E., ASHI Reporter, December 1998. This article in turn cites the Fine Homebuilding article noted below.
"When Block Foundations go Bad," Fine Homebuilding, June/July 1998
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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