Though we understand what causes pits and chasms to open up in the ground, we can't predict them. And that leads to disasters like the ones in these pictures, which can strike in the middle of a field or the middle of a city — with terrifying results.
A massive hole appeared in Winter Park, Florida, sucked in a home, five Porsches, a pickup truck, the Winter Park municipal pool, a large part of Denning Drive, on May 8, 1981. It widened to 350 ft (106 m) and to a depth of 75 ft (23 m) within a few days. During the summer it began to fill with water and became a tourist attraction. Its bottom was stabilized by filling with dirt and concrete and Lake Rose was formed there.
A 330 ft (100 m) deep hole in Guatemala City, collapsed in February 23, 2007, swallowed about a dozen homes and killed three people. Nearly 1,000 inhabitants were evacuated.
(Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/AP, Rodrigo Abd/AP, and AP/STR)
The broken Soledad Mountain Road in La Jolla, California, October 3, 2007
(Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
The 100-foot-deep (30.5 m), 60 ft (18.3 m) diameter Guatemalan Hellmouth, in an intersection of Guatemala City, Guatemala, May 2010, caused by massive underground water torrents created by tropical storm Agatha
(via Gobierno de Guatemala and AP/STR)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, after a powerful storm on July 23, 2010.
(Photo by Mark Was/AP)
The spontaneous holes of Berezniki, Russia. They're the result of erosion in the derelict mines below the city, and have been opening up since 2012. For public safety, the city started a 24-hour video surveillance system.
(via English Russia)
The Bayou Corne hole, created from a collapsed salt dome cavern in August 2012. Now it's about 26-acres, but still growing.
The vanished little pond of Sanica, Bosnia, caused by drying underground waters or changes in soil drainage due to agricultural irrigation, November 2013
(Photos by Amel Emric/AP)
The hole that ate eight cars in the National Corvette Museum, Bowling Green, Kentucky, February 2014
(Photos by National Corvette Museum/AP and Michael Noble Jr./AP)
The block-long collapse in Baltimore, Maryland that swallowed a street, April 2014
A hole that swallowed cars and damaged 150 homes during the FIFA World Cup in Natal, Brazil, June 20, 2014
(Photo by Antonio Calanni/AP and AP Photo)
The not-so-mysterious, 230 ft (70 m) deep hole in Yamal Peninsula, Siberia, Russia, July 2014
(via Siberian Times)