Trying to predict sinkholes in the state of Florida

If you live in the state of Florida then you probably know what a sinkhole is. The state is plagued with them and ranks first in the nation for the number it has. 

Multiple factors can cause a sinkhole to occur. Some, such as excavation, investigative drilling and heavy pumping of water in agricultural settings, are manmade. Others, including tropical storms and heavy rainfall, are natural phenomena.

These natural occurrences can inflict major property damage that is expensive to repair. Because of this it makes sense that there is an interest in determining when these formations might happen.

Enter, NASA. The agency has created a technology that could predict sinkholes before they occur. Known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar, or InSAR, the system is essentially an ultrasound. It utilizes drones as well as satellites to track elevation changes on earth over a period of time. Since in some cases a surface deformation will occur before some sinkholes occur, the information gathered might help to warn that such an incident was about to happen. The state of Florida is looking into using this technology.

At this point there does not appear to be a way to prevent sinkholes from occurring.

To help cover the cost of the repairs that often need to be completed on a property following a sinkhole, residents of the state of Florida purchase sinkhole insurance. According to the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation, the number of insurance claims being filed in connection with sinkholes is on the rise. As compared to 2006 when there were 2,360 sinkhole-related claims filed, in 2010, a total of 6,694 such claims were filed. While some of them were likely processed without an issue, in other cases property owners may have needed to work with a lawyer to get what they are due.

Source: The Atlantic, “Why Are There So Many Sinkholes in Florida?” Christopher Balogh, Aug. 22, 2014