I just have this sinking feeling…

Prince rolled over in his grave when a red Corvette plummeted into a giant sinkhole that opened up in the floor of the National Corvette Museum in Tampa, Fla.

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Photo retrieved from autoguide.com.

Of course, this recent news story talks about the literal car and not a pet name for a lover, but I digress.

Eight cars in total were lost to the depths of the sinkhole, but this isn’t the first time in history that the Earth crumbled spontaneously. In fact, so many sinkholes have occurred that The Discovery Channel was able to create a show about it. Entitled “Sinkholes: Swallowed Alive,” the show premiered on Feb. 15 and tells the personal testimony and science behind the naturally occurring collapse of earth.

Howstuffworks.com published an article attempting to explain the phenomenon to a lay person.

What causes Sinkholes?

Oftentimes, sinkholes are created by the earth’s prolonged exposure to water. This makes the dirt moist and likely to erode in places where the minerals that compose the compound are soft. When water begins to flood an already developing sinkhole, whether through rain or over irrigation, some topsoil can start to flood, further trapping the underlying water.

(Beginning to hear the suspense of the Jaws theme song, or is it just me?)

But don’t start thinking water is the enemy; in some cases, the water is actually holding up a portion of the Earth’s crust and the sudden absence of that water could also induce a collapse.

Where do sinkholes develop?

Sadly, we can’t outrun this enemy. Sinkholes develop all over America and the world, but you can pick a place other than the Sunshine State to live. Though we love its endless beaches and relaxed atmosphere, Florida is indeed the worst state for sinkholes. However, nearly every state has it’s share of groundbreaking events (punny).

How do I know if there is a sinkhole nearby?

For those at the National Corvette Museum, it would have been hard to tell where a sinkhole lay. With industrial structures masking the ground, the telling signs were also covered. However, if you notice structural damage to a foundation, there is a chance that a sinkhole is present. Additionally, if vegetation is either growing or dying unexpectedly, or well water becomes clouded or muddy, the ground may have a sinkhole problem.

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