A massive sinkhole opened up in 2008 in Daisetta, Texas. It started growing again on April 2, 2023, renewing old fears. Some people in Daisetta,  about 60 miles northeast of Houston, fear the hole may swallow the whole town.

In the fifteen years between 2008 and April 2nd of this year, the sinkhole stabilized and filled with water. It became a popular fishing hole. Many in Daisetta bought and wore a popular local t-shirt called "Sinkhole de Mayo." Now, residents are not laughing anymore.

Photo: Bluebonnet News via YouTube
Photo: Bluebonnet News via YouTube

This giant sinkhole has grown to 900 feet across and 260 feet deep. So far, it has only swallowed up some oil tanks and several vehicles but has spared nearby homes. Many fear it's just a matter of time before the hole swallows everything.

This raises old fears that the same thing could happen here in San Angelo.

Conditions in San Angelo are different from those in Daisetta. The geology and hydrology of the two regions are distinct. Factors like land usage in the areas and development patterns are different.

Despite these differences and the unpredictability of sinkholes, San Angelo is known for its limestone formations. These formations can be susceptible to erosion, especially in areas where water flows underground.  This can lead to sinkholes.

Sinkholes have happened before here.

In 2016 a sinkhole estimated to be 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep opened up just of US Highway 277 just south of San Angelo. In 2018, a sinkhole was reported in Wall that was ten feet wide and eight feet deep, caused by an underground water leak. In 2018, a sinkhole in Grape Creek was opened up caused by a ruptured water line.

Not that far away in Abilene, back in 2021, a large sinkhole opened up on Grape Street after heavy rains.

There are some huge sinkholes in West Texas. The Devil's Sinkhole in Edwards County is 400 feet deep and 40-50 feet wide at its opening. Geologists say it is highly unlikely that anything like that could open up in Tom Green County. We are still not completely out of the woods regarding the potential for large sinkhole development.

There is no way to prevent sinkholes altogether, given the limestone formations that characterize our area; there are some things you can do to reduce the risk on your property.

1) Monitor your land for changes in the landscape, such as depressions or sinking areas that may indicate subsidence or soil erosion. Contact local officials if you see this happening.

2. Plant vegetation. Native trees and bushes stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.

3. Manage Water. Water can contribute to sinkholes by eroding soil and rock. Ensure your gutters and downspouts direct water away from buildings and maintain drainage systems.

4. Avoid over-pumping. Overpumping of groundwater can lead to sinkholes.

5. Contact a geotechnical engineer or another qualified expert when you doubt whether a sinkhole may develop on your property.

It is highly unlikely that a sinkhole of the magnitude of the one in  Daisetta, Texas, or Devil's Sinkhole in Edwards County will open up in San Angelo. They don't have to be big to cause big headaches for property owners.  It's never a good idea to ignore changes in your foundation and sinking areas on your property.


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