A 20-meter (66 feet) wide sinkhole appeared in the gardens of Ripon, North Yorkshire, England on November 9, 2016, prompting emergency evacuations of seven houses in the area.
The sinkhole formed at the rear of two properties in Ripon, swallowing the houses' gardens, according to the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. Two fire crews and an officer were sent to inspect the area. Luckily, no injuries were reported. The sinkhole was estimated 20 m (66 feet) wide and 10 m (33 feet) long, its depth still unknown.
Frances O'Neill, one of the affected residents, described the incident in which half of her garden was left destroyed: "I went out of the back door and across my small patio. I was going to the garden when I realized the ground was moving underneath me. I grabbed a pole and pulled myself back up onto the patio."
Video credit: The Guardian/BBC Radio York
Video credit: SWNS TV
"My neighbor's wall has fallen down and scattered over what is left of my garden. If you look down from the patio, there is a sheer drop from where it used to be. I am waiting to see if my landlord's insurance will cover my accommodation costs as I am homeless now. We are allowed to go back in and get things, but we can't live there at the moment."
Sinkholes are quite usual for the Ripon area and are often caused by dissolution of gypsum deposits beneath the area. The British Geological Survey (BGS) conducted an investigation of the sinkhole activity in 2014 after a similar incident tore down a 100-year-old property in Magdalen's Close. Research showed a maze-like cave system under the town, which formed from the dissolving gypsum.
According to BGS, the sinkholes in Ripon were reported every two to three years in the period between the 1980s and 1990s, although no incident was recorded during the seven years preceding the 2014 event. One of the possible triggering mechanisms is the underground water in the area.
Residents of the three affected houses were allowed to return to their homes while others were advised to move out for the time being.
Featured image credit: SWNS TV