WJTV News Channel 12 - Southwest Virginia becoming more susceptible to sinkholes

Southwest Virginia becoming more susceptible to sinkholes

Posted: Updated:
BLACKSBURG -

Heavy rain and flooding throughout Southwest Virginia is bringing a familiar problem back to the forefront, sinkholes.

"I would say it is probably more likely that they are increasing in number," said regional geologist Bill Henika.

He studies sinkholes for different groups including the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech.

Henika said the impact of heavy rain, like what we've seen over the last two weeks, is making sinkholes more likely.

"It's just like how the trees are more likely to fall over because the soil loses its strength," he said.

They can be man-made, like when a water pipe bursts or in a lot of cases natural.

Limestone is very susceptible, meaning it's more likely to absorb water and eventually crack.

That stone can be found from Rockbridge County all the way down to the New River Valley.

Add in all the rain and it's a recipe for more sinkholes.

"We know the features are under there," Henika said. "It's just a matter of the more water in the system, then the weaker the soil archers are and you will have more collapse."

Henika and his team have developed dozens of geological maps measuring the likelihood of sinkholes, especially on major highways like Interstate 81.

CLICK HERE for interactive geological map

He said a lot of that information is used by agencies like Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to assess potential risks.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • April Mugshots

    April Mugshots

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:42 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:42:32 GMT
    Thomas Allen WinstonThomas Allen Winston
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
  • March Mugshots

    March Mugshots

    Monday, April 7 2014 12:49 PM EDT2014-04-07 16:49:38 GMT
    Michelle Marie Bussiere was arrested last week and charged with identity theft, forgery, theft under $500, among other charges.  (Source: Sullivan County Sheriff's Office)Michelle Marie Bussiere was arrested last week and charged with identity theft, forgery, theft under $500, among other charges. (Source: Sullivan County Sheriff's Office)
    This photo gallery features mugshots of individuals arrested in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia. 
    This photo gallery features mugshots of individuals arrested in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia. 
  • Roanoke Mother stands up against bullying after son's suicide

    Roanoke Mother stands up against bullying after son's suicide

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:05 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:05:18 GMT
    A Roanoke County mother is standing up against bullying after her 16-year-old son committed suicide. Maxx Poff was found dead on February 20th from a gunshot wound. "Maxx was a lover. He wasn't a fighter and it just kills me to know the pain he was going through for somebody bullying him," Maxx's mother Dianna Poff says. Roanoke County Assistant Police Chief Chuck Mason says detectives heard information was being circulated through social media that suggested bullying was the mean reason fo...
    A Roanoke County mother is standing up against bullying after her 16-year-old son committed suicide. Maxx Poff was found dead on February 20th from a gunshot wound. "Maxx was a lover. He wasn't a fighter and it just kills me to know the pain he was going through for somebody bullying him," Maxx's mother Dianna Poff says. Roanoke County Assistant Police Chief Chuck Mason says detectives heard information was being circulated through social media that suggested bullying was the mean reason fo...
Powered by WorldNow

1820 TV Road
Jackson, MS 39204

Telephone: 601.372.6311
Fax: 804.819.5569
Email: wjtvnews@wjtv.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.