Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sinkhole in Toledo provides teachable moment

At the end of my geology lecture on Monday, I showed the class the Discovery News video on sinkholes I included in An update on the Florida sinkhole disaster followed by one of the WXYZ videos embedded in Sinkhole in Detroit-what happens when infrastructure is neglected.  My students were suitably impressed.

Today's news provided the perfect follow-up, as WXYZ posted Car swallowed by sink hole.

Officials are trying to figure out how to repair a giant sinkhole in Toledo.
At WXYZ's website, the station has a video of the driver climbing out of the hole on a fire rescue ladder.  According to the Toledo Blade, she was taken to a hospital to be checked out, but was merely shaken; she apparently had no injuries.

As for the cause, WTVG tells a familiar story.
A city spokesperson says a 30 and 36-inch combined sewer line collapsed, causing washout of the ground under the road. The road gave way and the car fell in, striking a 6-inch water main on the way down.  The sewer lines and the water main were also from the 1800s.
Not only have I heard that story before, I've told it.
It turned out that three parts of the infrastructure failed. Not only did a water main break, but the initial failure was a leak in the sewer line that caused the road to collapse.
Toledo may not have learned anything from Detroit's experience, but my students got the message that this kind of thing is what happens when infrastructure is neglected.

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