LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After a second major sinkhole in the Louisville area in just a few months, some people may be wondering how they happen and why it seems they're happening so frequently.
Wednesday's sinkhole on I-265 shut down a major roadway. In March, the Louisville Zoo and Mega Caverns were closed after a massive hole opened up. And who could forget the huge sinkhole inside the National Corvette Museum in 2014?
"Sinkholes of this scale are somewhat rare, and very rarely do they actually occur in these critical situations," said Tom Rockaway, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Louisville.
Giant sinkholes may seem like the stuff of movies, but sinkholes are science, and Rockaway said the answers to our questions are underground.
When groundwater eats away at rock and underground materials, it can create cavities. Eventually, those underground spaces get larger and larger, and the soil on top isn't supported anymore. Then a collapse happens, creating a sinkhole.
"It's a process that occurs. It's part of nature," Rockaway said. "We can't stop it."
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the most damage from sinkholes occurs in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and, you guessed it: Kentucky. Because of the geology, small sinkholes are not uncommon in our area.
"The general geology of Kentucky is limestone rock materials that are soluble in water, and over time, the water will just start to dissolve the rock, and these sinkholes will start to form," Rockaway said.
Sinkholes are hard to predict but are always possible if the geological conditions are right. Rockaway said all the rain we've seen over the last year probably isn't the direct culprit, but it certainly doesn't help.
"Sinkholes are going to develop as a natural process," he said. "As we have changing weather conditions, our soils and subsurface materials are going to respond.
To learn more about sinkholes, click here.
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