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Water-Related News

Deadly sinkhole is a sign of more to come in Florida

Urban sprawl, weather patterns could dictate new sinkholes

As workers piled the last mounds of gravel on the sinkhole that engulfed a Florida man, geologists and experts say they expect to see more sinkhole sightings throughout the state in the coming years.

Urban sprawl, well-water drilling and fluctuating weather patterns all lead to sinkhole collapses and could bring more of the phenomenon to populated areas, said Jonathan Arthur, Florida's state geologist.

"As our footprint on the land increases, the likelihood we'll encounter sinkholes will increase," Arthur said. "The activity we engage in that affects the subsurface land and water can trigger sinkholes as well."

Sinkhole claims jumped from 2,360 in 2006 to 6,694 in 2010, the last year such data was collected, at a cost of $1.4 billion, according to a 2010 report by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.