July 23, 2014
Aggregates have many applications — whether in road building, home construction, or toothpaste, but here’s one you may have never heard before. A contractor in Alaska needed 100 tons of aggregates to fill a 75-foot sinkhole that suddenly opened up in a family’s front yard.
“We filled up the hole and got rid of the danger,” Gary Powell of B&B Excavating said.
At first investigators thought the sinkhole was the result of a 100 year old abandoned mine shaft. That theory seemed to make sense at first. Less than 1,000 yards from the hole, industrial and large-scale dredging operations took place in the 1930s and 1940s.
That theory seemed less likely when there was no timber framing found inside the shaft.
Investigators now believe that ice once occupied the spot and melted away long ago, leaving the deep and empty hold behind. However, Tom Budtzen, a veteran Alaska geologist and mining historian, can’t completely rule out the possibility of a mine shaft once existing in the area. But it doesn’t seem likely.
As for the homeowner, he doesn’t care what caused the sinkhole. He’s just glad it’s gone.
“I just wanted it buried before someone slipped in it or fell,” the homeowner, Al Schultz, said. “I wanted it plugged.”