Science

In Croatia, gaping craters appear after an earthquake

Around 100 circular depressions appeared in the countryside of central Croatia, sometimes very close to houses, in the wake of the deadly earthquake that shook the region at the end of December.

These sinkholes, the largest of which is 25 meters in diameter, are yet another ordeal for residents who are still rebuilding after the damage caused by the 6.4 magnitude earthquake.

The gaping holes formed days after the disaster that left seven people dead and destroyed hundreds of buildings and homes in the Petrinja area on December 29.

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According to the Croatian National Geological Survey (HGI), the earthquake and the consecutive aftershocks that continue today have accelerated a phenomenon already at work in the region.

These sinkholes appear suddenly when underground rocks are eroded by water to form a cavity, which at one point can no longer support the layers of soil on the surface.

This is a normal process, but the formation of such a large number of cavities in “such a small area” is unusual, Stjepan Terzic, an engineer at HGI told AFP.

With the multiplication of earthquakes, “many holes have appeared while under normal conditions it would take decades or more for them to form.”

The sinkholes look like small circular ponds as they filled with emerald groundwater. They were formed on agricultural land around the villages of Mecencani and Borojevici.

With the approach of spring and the rise in groundwater levels, specialists called for caution.

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