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How Likely Are Sinkholes In Southern Idaho?

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By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Last week several cars were engulfed by a sinkhole in Chicago and just Thursday morning in Colorado, a sinkhole opened up in the middle of the road near the University of Colorado's Bolder campus. But what's the actuality of Idahoans seeing sinkholes in the Gem State?

What would seem to be a calm country road the early morning of July 14, 2012, ended in tragedy for one Melba woman. Sonia Lopez, 32, was killed when her car crashed into the 15–foot–wide and 40–foot–long sinkhole near the southwestern Idaho town.

Nathan Jerke, Idaho Transportation Department exclaims, "we're on a piece of very solid ground in southern Idaho. In other places like western Idaho, they do have more clay–like soils and they could see an occasional sinkhole develop."

Jerke explains there are several layers of basalt underneath us.
This rock in comparison to other types of subsurface geology doesn't disintegrate easily with water.

"We do get some subsurface water that build up underneath our roadways and that creates potholes and cracking of the roadways, but that can be generally solved with engineering, better subsurface construction of the roadway through the base material," adds Jerke.

Chief Meteorologist Brian Neudorff points out that we have aquifers in southern Idaho and they too can cause erosion.

Neudorff says, "water running underneath the ground where we get our drinking water in some areas and that can also erode in the bedrock, the limestone in place, if it's acidic enough and that can cause holes, leading to sinkholes."

Sinkholes can happen on highways, country roads and even in the middle of town.


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