Huge sinkhole opens in British town

A large sinkhole opened with a crash in a neighborhood in Hertfordshire, England.

A sinkhole opened up Friday in the town of St. Albans in Hertfordshire, in this YouTube screenshot. More sinkholes are being seen in the United Kingdom.

Several homes in Britain were cut off from roads when a large sinkhole opened in Hertfordshire the very night before it was to be filled in.

"Work was scheduled to fill it in this morning," a Hertfordshire County Council spokesman told the BBC. "Following our inspection, there was no reason to suspect that the hole would collapse."

The sinkhole opened up across the driveway and front yard of a home in a cul-de-sac, spreading into the street to create a 66-foot-wide, 33-foot-deep hole in the town of St. Albans in Hertfordshire, northwest of London.

The county council of Hertfordshire knew about the hole because a Royal Mail postman had hurt himself earlier that week when a drain cover gave way. The council said there was no idea then of the small hole opening up into a huge sinkhole because in Hertfordshire such holes often crop up "for historic reasons," Richard Thake, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, told local radio BOBfm Home Counties.

Sudden patterns of sinkholes can be the result of climate change – wetter winters alternating with drier summers can make the ground unstable – and soft rock that dissolves quickly underfoot. Buildings can make them more likely, as water running off a roof can make the ground soggy, according to The Mirror. In Feb. 2014, for example, eight new sinkholes appeared in England, according to Esri, a geographic analysis company.

The hole has cut five homes off from the main road, and the residents have evacuated to a community center. It may take weeks or even months to repair the road. This had Julie Langford, who couldn't get her car out of the driveway to drive to work Thursday, concerned.

"I can't walk to work - I have an hour's commute in the morning," she told Sky News. "The children can walk to school, but when you're a mum with four children it's not easy."

Such sinkholes can certainly be inconvenient, but they are not altogether uncommon. Florida experiences sinkholes regularly, with more than 300 in the last 5 years, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

A sinkhole even opened up this summer in Brooklyn, N.Y., The Christian Science Monitor reported in August, although it resulted from leaky pipes rather than naturally eroding rock.

In the US, sinkholes are usually associated with limestone that is slowly eroded away by acidic water. In England the cause is more likely to be chalk, but the process is similar.

"Changes in the water table may affect the stability of underground cavities," Peter Hobbs of the British Geological Survey told Sky News. "Recently, the weather in this part of the country has been relatively dry, and water tables may have lowered."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

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

QR Code to Huge sinkhole opens in British town
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today