Humongous sinkhole opens beneath Kentucky's National Corvette Museum

A huge sinkhole beneath National Corvette Museum in Kentucky swallowed eight Corvettes. Kentucky's karst landscape makes the region susceptible to sinkholes, say scientists.

National Corvette Museum
A giant sinkhole sized about 40 feet across and 25-30 feet deep within the Skydome area of the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky ate up eight Corvettes.

A devastating natural phenomenon has reared its ugly head once again, this time swallowing eight iconic American cars.

A giant sinkhole – estimated to be 40 feet across and 25 to 30 feet deep – collapsed below the Skydome area of Kentucky's National Corvette Museum, gulping eight Corvettes.

"We received a call at 5:44 am from our security company alerting us of our motion detectors going off in our Skydome area of the Museum," the museum noted in a press release. "Upon arrival it was discovered that a sinkhole had collapsed within the Museum. No one was in or around the Museum at the time. The Bowling Green Fire Department arrived on the scene and secured the area."

Out of the eight cars, six were owned by the National Corvette Museum. The officials do not have an exact cost of the damage, but it is quite substantial, Bob Bubnis, communications coordinator at the Museum told the Monitor.

But what caused the portion of the ground to just cave-in?

Kentucky is prone to sinkholes. About half the state sits atop carbonate bedrock, in which karst conditions can develop.

Karst is a type of topography scattered with sinkholes, sinking streams, caves, and springs, which mostly develops on limestone, "but can develop on several other types of rocks, such as dolostone (magnesium carbonate or the mineral dolomite), gypsum, and salt," according to the Kentucky Geological Survey. 

State Geologist Jim C. Cobb with KGS, which is part of the University of Kentucky, said that the region has seen a lot of Cover-Collapse sinkholes. These type of sinkholes are typically created when water erodes the underlying limestone bedrock beneath the ground. The more acidic the water, the faster the erosion. Rainwater, which tends to be acidic, dissolves the limestone and causes more erosion of the bedrock. Ice, snow and rainfall further aggravate the problem as they cause erosion of the soil on top of the bedrock layers.

According to KGS, "Dissolution sinkholes form over long periods of time, with occasional episodes of more rapid subsidence or collapse. It is the collapse of the loose cover over the bedrock or soil that causes the problem. Sometimes the collapse will occur in an area with no indication of previous subsidence."

When the soil cover can no longer support whatever it is on top of it, the ground beneath collapses.

The sinkhole in the museum is unique in that it happened inside the museum, where rain, snow or ice couldn't have caused erosion of at least the top layer of soil, Dr. Cobb says.

In general, presence of an unexcavated "closed depression" and a site underlaid with limestone could indicate that a sinkhole is probably present within the region, says the KGS.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.