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Why Sinkholes Suddenly Appear In Malaysia

Why Sinkholes Suddenly Appear In Malaysia


Imagine yourself just driving around town, navigating your way through traffic, dealing with YOLO Malaysian drivers, minding your own business, and then…

Your car (along with you in it) unexpectedly fall into a giant hole in the ground that suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
(Image Credit: Twitter via @HafizShukaime)

The thought of the ground disappearing beneath your feet might be the stuff of nightmares, sinkholes are a real phenomenon that happens everywhere around the world.

Sinkholes are, well, holes that appear on the ground. They can either be small and shallow or large and deep enough to devour people, vehicles or entire buildings.

19-meter wide, 30-meter deep sinkhole that appeared in Guatemala City in Central America in 2010, swallowing a three-storey building and killing 15 people.
(Image Credit: NPR)

Like many other things that occur on this planet, sinkholes can occur naturally or from man-made causes, where human development and construction can compromise the structural integrity of the ground’s surface.

And KL City for some reason seems like its eroding away, with 3 sinkholes happening in one day…

Remember the 10-meter deep hole that ripped open at Bukit Bintang in 2014 caused by a burst underground pipe and construction in the area.
(Image Credit: Mr.Brown)

There are 3 basic types of sinkholes that basically form the same way due to erosion and water drainage.

1. Cover-collapse sinkholes are the ones that can occur abruptly. It happens when cracks underneath the surface are eroded and hollowed out by water creating a cavern underneath a layer of soil on the surface. This cave that forms underground then collapses under its own weight, exposing the cavity that had formed over time.

Though the sinkhole itself can appear suddenly, the erosion process usually happens gradually and out of sight.

Formation of a cover-collapse sinkhole
(Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

2. Cover-subsidence sinkholes happen way slower. It’s caused when bedrock underneath the surface is worn down or dissolved by water.

This creates a cavity that gradually pulls sediment into the empty spaces underground, making a depression on the surface

Formation of a cover-subsidence
(Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

3. Dissolution sinkholes form when water runoff flows into cracks in the ground and eats away at the bedrock bit by bit, creating a depression on the surface.

These crevises can get plugged up by debris, trapping water and forming ponds and wetlands on the surface.

Formation of a dissolution sinkhole
(Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

Concerningly, the adverse impact of the Climate Crisis is also causing more sinkholes to appear.

Changing temperatures and unpredictable weather is changing the very geology of our planet affecting not only human-populated areas but also everywhere else around the world.

The Batagaika crater or the “doorway to hell” in Siberia caused by melting permafrost from global warming.
(Image Credit: National Geographic)

There is still a lot that we do not know about our planet, and it’s scary to think that the actions we take are changing the very face of this hunk of rock floating in space we call home.

Do you have a fear of being swallowed up by the ground? Let us know on our
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