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Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 12:12pm

Georgia's Sinkholes Not As Deep As Florida's

Some Georgians are on the lookout for sinkholes, after heavy rain has hit the state. Experts say Georgia’s sinkholes aren’t typically as deep as the one that claimed a Florida man’s life.

Southern Georgia shares similar topography to Florida, as does the area of northern Georgia around Rome and Cartersville.

Ann Zimmer-Shepherd, Sewer Superintendent for the city of Albany, says the base is made up of limestone.

“And because of the limestone, it’s actually a soluble mineral and so when water fluctuates in that region you’re going to see the starting of some of the dissolving of the rock and then the overburden falls into that hole. And then over time it causes a collapse.”she says.

Aaron Epstein, Senior Associate Engineer with United Consulting in Norcross, says Georgia’s sinkholes aren’t usually as deep as those in Florida because of what’s under the surface.

He says “Particularly in north Georgia, it’s more like thin, little slots that create an interconnected network where soils can be taken away. But we don’t typically have the massive caverns like they have down in Florida.”

And sinkholes aren’t always bad. Jessie Cook with Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany says they turned two sinkholes into a retaining pond at the Legacy Park sports complex.

He says “It solved some of the problems with what we need to do with the runoff water out there. And we saved about 90 thousand dollars by just turning it into a pond instead of covering it up.”

Ann Zimmer-Shepherd, Albany’s Sewer Superintendent, says they have had calls in Dougherty County.

“We have several locations in the outer areas of the county where there are some starting signs of sinkholes, but nothing like under the buildings that happened in Florida.” she says.

None currently poses a threat.

Zimmer-Shepherd says most natural sinkholes in Georgia form in land away from buildings.

Jon Spaller, senior geologist at GEC in Macon, says urban areas tend to see what are CALLED sinkholes when pipes leak under buildings and streets.

“And we certainly see an increase in that kind of activity with a lot of rainfall.”

But he says those leaks can also happen anytime.