Thursday, April 10, 2014

AMAZING - Watching the Sinkhole Overflow!!

I was actually there the other day when suddenly the Lower Wodehouse Creek sinkhole overflowed, and slowly filled the empty stream channel right in front of my eyes!  It may not mean much to you, but I can't believe that I was there for the right 10 minutes when this happened, as it does usually once a year.  This was the 'once-in-a-lifetime' sight I mentioned on Tuesday.

Take a close look at this series of pictures, all of which were taken in a 10 minute period.  I thought the sinkhole itself  was looking full.  I anticipated that within a day or two it would be overflowing, so I stopped by the bridge as I left to take a picture of the still mostly empty stream channel.  This was going to be my 'before' picture.

But as I stood there it looked like the stream was flowing down the channel toward me!  I started taking pictures to be able to compare it.
With the tree at the side of the channel as a marker, I quickly realized that yes, the stream was steadily filling in the channel - the sinkhole must have just started overflowing. 
I stood at the end of the little bridge for 10 minutes, and took a sequence of pictures.  You can see the corner of the bridge in the lower left.

The water crept onward, right toward my feet.  This is the stream that creates an ephemeral waterfall that only lasts for 2-3 weeks every spring, so watching this happen was watching the creation of a temporary waterfall.
At this point the normally dry stream channel is almost full, with the water backed up against the ice dam along the side of the bridge (lower left).  Water started trickling under the ice and I could hear it gurgling down through the rocks beneath me.  There are obviously cracks in a number of places in this limestone, not just one sinkhole.

At this point the channel had flooded as high as it gets, backed up against the ice beside the bridge.  I left and returned later when I realized it would take some time to break through that barrier - that's tomorrow's story.  But I was thrilled to have captured a moment in time that I probably won't see again.

The sinkholes I refer to here are not the large sinkholes that sometimes collapse in Florida (and elsewhere).  Although the process of formation is similar, in 'karst' topography, the rock here is very hard dolostone, and our sinkholes are really just cracks in the bedrock large enough to let water flow through - and sometimes form small caves.  However, this is enough that streams disappear in these sinkholes and re-emerge halfway down the escarpment slopes, a widespread feature of drainage patterns around here.  Perhaps I'll try to get a diagram to explain this sometime.
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  1. Wow - lucky you! (Now you need to go buy a lottery ticket) :)

  2. That is amazing, mature in all its whimsical ways, gave you the day to remember!! Cheers, Jean.

  3. That is really amazing! How exciting to be there at the exact moment it happened. Thanks for explaining about the sink holes there as I was wondering about them.

  4. Sometimes we get lucky. I've always wanted to see river ice move out. So far no luck. I have to watch it after it's broken.

  5. Wow, that is amazing, and your timing is impeccable!

  6. Hello on a gorgeous, spring day in TENNESSEE. Wow---after the long and bitter winter we had this year, Spring is even more inviting and lovely.

    You were in the right place at JUST the right time.... Love watching that stream 'grow'---with all of the melting going on... NEAT!

    We are now home 'again' --after our 5th trip since the end of February.... Seems as if we visited five different states --although the trips weren't planned for that reason... ha... BUT--as I always say, it's great to be home... I did publish a blog post today--so check it out when you have time. Have a wonderful weekend.


    1. Hi Betsy, I already did read your blog; great trip you had! Brings back memories for us too.

  7. That is very, very cool. And capturing the pictures let you share it with us!

  8. Wow that was really neat to watch. Great series of photos!!!!

  9. Oh what a lucky lucky catch for you..I agree...go and get a lottery ticket and on to spring....Michelle

  10. You were very lucky to witness that!
    Here the driveway is flooded for a few days, nothing dramatic, but last spring there was a beaver on the flooded road! Having no place to dive into, he growled at me (I did not know they growled).

  11. Once I was alone in the woods on a calm day and saw a very large tree fall over all on its own. I imagine it gave me the same sense of wonder you have experienced and served as a reminder that nature keeps on ticking whether we are there to observe it or not. Very lucky.