More than 2 600 sinkholes have been identified in Konya Plain, Anatolia, Turkey, as of September 27, 2022. At the end of 2021, there were over 2 500 sinkholes, of which around 700 were deeper and 1 800 less than 1 m (3.3 feet) in depth.
- Konya Plain is known as Turkey’s grain store, with 70% of its population engaged in agriculture and livestock.
- This karst region used to have dozens of lakes until 50 to 60 years ago.
- Uncontrolled irrigation dried up the lakes and farmers started pumping groundwater, making perfect conditions for the creation of sinkholes.
“Despite the heavy snowfall last year, there was not a great increase in groundwater,” said Fetullah Arık, a professor at the Konya Technical University (KTÜN) and the head of the Sinkhole Research Center.1
“With more sinkholes found in the Cihanbeyli, Yunak, Kulu, Sarayönü, Kadınhanı districts, the number has soared to 2600,” Arik said.
“The ground structure [karst terrain], which is soluble when it encounters water, covers a very large area throughout the basin, so these sinkholes will continue to occur even if we do not intervene,” Arık explained, adding that another reason for their rapid formation is intense and uncontrolled way people continue to use groundwater.
Furthermore, initiatives for the production of plants that consume a lot of water such as sugar beet, corn and alfalfa in the basin also continue to increase.
The sinkholes are now moving to places such as agricultural areas, residential areas and energy investment areas, posing more risk to the people and infrastructure.
“Since we have no chance to change nature’s geological conditions, the most effective measure we can take is to control the use of groundwater,” Arik said.
1 Number of sinkholes in Konya Plain exceeds 2,600: Expert – Hurriyet Daily News – September 27, 2022
Featured image credit: TRT World
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