Imagine. You wake up early in the morning, gulp down some breakfast and go out, cup of coffee or tea in hand to enjoy the morning breeze. In front of you, your garden has turned into a huge gaping hole, deep and 5 meters in diameter. This is the disappointment experienced by a family residing in Mexico on May 29th. Since then, the hole has continued to expand a little more each day and now exceeds 100 meters in diameter.
A phenomenon that marks as much by the mystery that revolves around its appearance as by its spectacular appearance, this real chasm has taken possession of a field located in Santa María Zacatepec, in the south of this Central American country. If it seemed to be at the beginning only a small phenomenon of natural erosion, it now worries the local authorities because its magnitude has not stopped growing for just a week.
“A thunderous noise”
According to the New York Post, the family living on the edge of the field now dug by the hole that over time filled with water was awakened by a thunderclap. This thud was actually the fall of part of the land behind their house. At first “small”, the abyss gradually turned into a huge cavity, increasing to 18, then to 30, 60 to finally exceed 100 meters in diameter.
Today, that hollow in the ground threatens to reach the property of the family who live right next to the field he has decimated with its many extensions over the days. “We have nothing, we are not from here, have no family, we are alone“, testified Heriberto, the father of the family to a local media, reported by AFP.
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The family has also been expropriated but fears losing their house and at the same time everything they own. “The authorities didn’t tell us anything but we see that our house is right on the brink“, deplores Magdalena, the wife of Heriberto with the local daily newspaper El Sol des México.”We are very sad because building this house has required a lot of effort and sacrifice. We succeeded, but now this drama is occurring.“
The mystery hovers
How and above all why did this hole appear? The local authorities are on the bridge to answer this question. Miguel Barbosa Huerta, governor of the state of Puebla where the small town that has been in the headlines for several days is located, said the crater reached a depth of up to 20 meters below sea level May 31. It quickly filled with water.
If the phenomenon attracts many curious, the local police hold anyone who wishes to approach the hole at a distance, reports CNN. The residents have their theory on the origin of this mysterious phenomenon. Some believe that the field was installed over a “jagüey”, an old pond, eventually filled in and turned into farmland.
On the side of the environmental authorities, one rather evokes a “softening of the agricultural lands”, caused by the extraction of the aquifers. It is a type of rock which, when made porous or cracked, is conducive to vertical flows, and therefore collapses. Cumulated with the extraction of underground water, the crops on the field would have contributed to weaken the solidity of the subsoil.
These explanations could bring this chasm back into the category of “sinkholes”, cavities that suddenly widen. They usually appear in soils that overlook areas with flowing water. In its passage, the water dissolves the limestone rock and promotes the appearance of voids in the soil which sometimes causes the surface to collapse.
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For now, specialists from the National Water Commission of Mexico are investigating to find out the causes that favored the appearance of this crater. A job that could last since many media evoke a period of 30 days to uncover potential explanations.
Will it get bigger again?
Miguel Barbosa indicated that the hole “will grow until nature decides when the water stops exerting pressure“. In a tweet dated Thursday, June 3, the Mexican Civil Protection indicates that the cavity could still grow, because the earth, “in direct contact with water loses its resistance and is easily eroded”.
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