Monday, May 31, 2010

I Assumed This Was Shopped

I saw this earlier this afternoon at The Daily What; my first assumption was that it was photoshopped. Despite assurances it came from the Guatemalan Government, I held off posting it until I saw it picked up in a more trustworthy place.Well, the NYT has picked it up, and I more or less trust them. "This astonishingly unnerving photograph was posted today on the Flickr.com feed of the Guatemalan goverment and shows a seemingly bottomless sinkhole that opened up on Sunday in Guatemala City as a swath of Central America was drenched by tropical storm Agatha." Yow! Below is a street-level view:
The full-size aerial view is hosted at Flickr (~1 MB). Also, for you Star Wars fans, "This is no cave!" (I'm pretty sure that one is photoshopped.)

Followup June 1: More photos and description at National Geographic.

13 comments:

Bob said...

Jen saw that first one at Gizmodo and asked me if it was a reputable site, so we did a search and turned up a couple other views as well.

Apparently all of Central America is falling apart; Guatemala's sinkhole and the volcano eruption last Friday, we just had (in the last five minutes so it's not showing up on the USGS site yet) a couple of strong shakes, a 4.9 off the coast of Nicaragua last week, 4.8 and 5.9 here in Costa Rica last week and the week afore that, and ... something else that escapes me at the moment.

Here's a question, could this uptick in local seismic activity be related to, say, and purely as a hypothetical, the catastrophic release of some kind of pressure on the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico?

Bob said...

and there it is....

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/at00536278.php#details

... which is about 50 miles south of us (San Rafael de Heredia, CR).

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

http://dariuswhiteplume.tumblr.com/post/651746340/ieatcatlitter-ieatvomit-via-w33d

Jennifer said...

So what happens next? It doesn't look like it would expand laterally. It also doesn't look like there's going to be any filling it in. Is it now a permanent feature of that neighborhood? Do people bridge them, or just wall them off? There was a similar one, I think in the same city, in 2007. When I get to work I want to check Google Earth and see if it's walled off, covered over, or what.

(Captcha: ingest)

Jennifer said...

Bob looked it up - the one from 3 years ago has been filled in and/or covered over somehow. This article gives the Google Earth placemark:

http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2007/02/guatemala_city_sinkh.html

Benjamin said...

It's what happens when you build on and over-draw water from karst topography (aka limestone bedrock). It happens in Florida all the time too. Much of the Gulf Coast's bedrock is Limestone.

It has NOTHING to do with the oil spill, which is a geological drop in the bucket.

Lockwood said...

I put a follow-up link to a phot gallery at NatGeo. They say the 2007 sinkhole was filled and covered over, and they'll probably do the same with this one- though the volume to be filled is daunting. I second Benjamin and say that all this (apparent) activity has nothing to do with the BP gusher. IF it were coming from an area that's seismically active (it's not), if anything, the release of pre fluids would make quakes less, rather than more, likely. Essentially, fluid under pressure pushes rocks apart, and reduces friction within rock bodies. The cavity/cavern into which this intersection collapsed was likely forming for centuries or longer, then the addition of all the weight of storm water triggered the collapse of the surface into the hole.

Lockwood said...

In the above "pre fluids" should be "pore fluids."

Lockwood said...

...and I messed up the link, too:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/06/photogalleries/100601-sinkhole-in-guatemala-2010-pictures-world/

Bob said...

Yeah, I didn't really think our (apparent [meant to put that in my original comment]) seismic uptick had any connection with the Gulf Gusher... jocularity fail.

meg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
meg said...

It's not a sinkhole, according to several sources. It should be called a 'piping structure' as it does not fit the true definition of a sinkhole.

http://geotripper.blogspot.com/2010/06/piping-structure-at-guatemala-city-dont.html

Lockwood said...

@meg- yeah, I posted this the day the news broke, when it was universally being described as a sinkhole, and I have the Geotripper article set aside to do a followup as the facts are clarified. I agree that it doesn't look to fit the definition of a sinkhole, and it never really did, which is why I assumed it was shopped. But I still have a number of questions... in particular, piping requires some kind of outlet. This hole, by the estimates I've seen- and nothing really authoritative there, either- is 300 feet deep. What is the outlet at 300 feet depth? Is it a cave system? If so, wouldn't that make it some kind of hybrid rather than one or the other?

I simply don't know, which is why I've been waiting for clearer info that I trust before I say much else.