A sinkhole can develop almost anywhere, but here are the states where the most frequent damage occurs and why.
Florida - Florida is a hotbed for sinkholes owing to exposed or thinly covered carbonate rocks and permeable sand and soil. Sinkholes are also thought to be created by heavy rainfall, long-term droughts, land development, water pumping, and retention pond construction.
Texas - In Texas, oil drilling is thought to be a significant contributor to the occurrence of sinkholes as well as coal mining. Of course, naturally occurring sinkholes are due to salt-dome, bedded salt, and limestone dissolution.
Alabama - The state of Alabama has more miles of underground rivers than any other state leaving the area susceptible to sinkhole formation. Alabama is also home to one of the largest sinkholes in the U.S. called the Golly Hole, which measures more than 300 feet across.
Missouri - Missouri has more than 16,000 known sinkholes. In fact, the whole city of St. Louis is built on top of a cave system. More than half of Missouri's land surface is made up of limestone and carbonate bedrock.
Kentucky - Parts of Kentucky can see as much as 58 inches of rain per year, leading to groundwater fluctuations. The underground soil is washed when the water flows through, and the limestone bedrock dissolves.
Tennessee - Karst terrain and limestone formations make Tennessee a top contender for sinkholes to develop, mainly in the middle and eastern part of the state.
Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania is prone to sinkholes largely because of limestone and dolomite dissolution from water and carbon dioxide mixing to form an acid. 7% of the state's 44,000 miles exist on sinkhole vulnerable karst.
Special sinkhole caveats in Florida law
Since Florida has more sinkholes than any other state, home insurance companies are required to cover "catastrophic ground cover collapse." You may think that since you have a sinkhole in your yard, your insurance has to pay for it to get fixed, but not necessarily. The following four geological activity elements have to be met for insurance to cover it.
- The abrupt collapse of ground cover
- Depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye
- Structural damage to the building, including its foundation
- The structure is condemned and ordered to be vacated by a government agency
Unfortunately, this means that even if a sinkhole has caused damage to your home unless it's condemned, you're not likely to get any compensation for repairs. However, it's always best to consult with one of our personal injury attorneys to make sure the insurance company is acting fairly.