FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 8, 2013
$1.1 MILLION PROJECT WILL ALLOW FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY TO ADDRESS SINKHOLE VULNERABILITY
~Federal Emergency Management Agency grant
form a statewide assessment of sinkhole vulnerability. ~
TALLAHASSEE – A $1.08 million federal grant will allow the Florida Geological Survey, in conjunction with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, to conduct a statewide assessment of sinkhole vulnerability in Florida starting this fall.
The grant was funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in conjunction with the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The three-year project will
start with geologists conducting a one-year pilot study in Hamilton, Columbia and
Suwannee counties.The results of the
pilot study will culminate in the production of a model that will generate a
map showing the relative vulnerability of these counties to potential sinkhole formation. The resulting model will then be used to produce a statewide map during the following two years.
“Florida’s geology is complex
and this grant will allow the Florida Geological Survey to produce a predictive
tool that will refine our understanding of sinkhole occurrence throughout the
state,” said Dr. Jon Arthur, Director of the Florida Geological Survey.
“Ultimately, this assessment will aid planners, builders and environmental
regulators for the betterment of human health and safety as well as the
Sinkholes are a common, natural feature of Florida's landscape because Florida sits on several thousand
feet of porous limestone. Porous
limestone aquifers can produce billions of gallons of fresh water. Naturally acidic groundwater and rainwater dissolves limestone, leaving behind void spaces. The resulting void spaces can lead to the
formation of sinkholes, caves, and springs, all of which are called karst
The information gathered will
help improve the State of Florida Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan risk
assessment section on sinkholes as well as its corresponding mitigation
strategies. An appendix to the State Hazard Mitigation Plan will be added to the project’s full findings.
“The Florida Division of
Emergency Management is pleased to be a part of this project,” said FDEM
Director Bryan W. Koon. “Sinkholes present a potential hazard to many
Floridians throughout the state. By better understanding sinkhole vulnerability
in Florida, we will be better able to prevent loss of life and property and
keep Florida’s families safe.”
The request was sparked by
Tropical Storm Debby, which brought heavy
rainfall to Florida in June 2012, triggering the
formation of sinkholes. In the months leading up to Tropical Storm
Debby’s record rainfall event, most of Florida had been experiencing extreme
drought conditions, resulting in lowered water levels in our aquifers. The result was an outbreak of sinkholes when rainwater caused dry underground voids -- previously filled with water -- to collapse.
Benefits of the project include more effective mitigation
planning to reduce loss of life and property by lessening
the impact of sinkholes on Florida’s population and infrastructure;
better understanding of sinkhole susceptibility; an increased
understanding of Florida's karst terrain and hydrogeology, and how that
affects the state. The assessment will help environmental
regulators, growth management planners, the construction industry and local
governments in developing protective designs as additional
information about Florida's geology will facilitate planning
for possible sinkhole occurrences.
For more information about sinkholes, visit DEP's Online Newsroom or the Florida Geological Survey website.