The Southeastern U.S. is prime territory for the geological phenomena — a potentially costly game of subterranean roulette.
In Tennessee, a sinkhole opened during renovations on the football stadium at Austin Peay State University. What started as a small hole turned into a chasm 40 feet deep and 40 feet wide as a repair crew dug to find its source.
In Kentucky, a sinkhole gobbled eight classic cars on display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. Corvettes, piled like toys in a heap of dirt and concrete fragments, became an Internet sensation, boosting museum attendance.
And in Florida — ground zero for sinkholes — Tina and John Furlow were forced from their home near Tampa when a sinkhole caused so much damage that the repairs would have exceeded the value of the three-bedroom house with a nice pool. They now live in a used recreational vehicle.
The hole was plugged with layers of boulders, concrete, smaller rocks and a layer of cloth-like material to prevent moisture from seeping through. Then came another application of rocks, capped by asphalt.
Austin Peay plays its first football game in the renovated stadium Saturday against Chattanooga.
The place that showcases automotive engineering will highlight another engineering feat when workers fix the hole. The project is expected to last six months and cost millions of dollars, said museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli.The museum will remain open during repairs.
Elsewhere, in one extreme case, a 37-acre sinkhole opened two years ago in southern Louisiana and has been swallowing land ever since. Scientists believe it formed after an underground salt dome cavern had some sort of collapse or breach of its outer supporting sidewall of salt.
"There are no typical cases with a sinkhole," said Sandy Nettles, who owns a geology consulting company in the Tampa, Florida, area. "It just depends on where the building is. We get a lot of them that opened underneath a house. You can run around the house and see no evidence of the sinkhole, but the interior of the house is subsiding or collapsing."
The Furlows had no clue a sinkhole had formed on their property until John Furlow fell into the hole beside the house, said his wife, Tina.