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Do Sinkholes Happen in Mississippi?

sinkhole
Chip Ward

JACKSON, Miss. – Sinkholes can and have happened in Mississippi. While not as catastrophic as the one in Florida which swallowed half a condo this past Sunday, they can get big enough to eat your car according to Mississippi State Geography Professor John Mylroie. He says that has to do with the amount of soluble rock under the earth’s surface.

“The most common soluble rock you’ll find in North America is Limestone, which covers about 20 percent of the United States,” said Mylroie. “In those places we can anticipate that lose of a rock can create voids in which overlying materials can slump slowly or rapidly, and you’ve got a sinkhole.”

Commonly limestone is dissolved by groundwater, when that happens everything above it to falls into a void or cave in the limestone, which creates a sinkhole. Large sinkholes like the ones in Florida are not likely to happen in Mississippi because there is not nearly as much limestone.

The places where there is limestone in Mississippi include northeast Tishomingo County, and places north of Oxford and Tupelo. Also in Laurel and Hattiesburg there is a band of limestone that stretches from Vicksburg to Alabama, which is where the largest number of sinkholes occur in the state.

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