Experts: Activity of Scott Lake Sinkholes Is Difficult to Predict

Scott Lake, most likely formed by sinkholes thousands of years ago, is now at the mercy of a giant sinkhole that could be 300 feet deep.
What will happen next to the exclusive, private lake is now a waiting game for hydrologists, engineers, homeowners and curious onlookers."It's hard to say what it's going to do at this point," said Bill Lewelling, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who visited Scott Lake on Friday.Whether rain would help or hurt the 285-acre lake, which virtually emptied in 10 days, is also another open question."It could open it up, or it could plug it up," said Lewelling."Right now, it's very unstable because it just formed," said Patty Metz, another hydrologist from the USGS, who was checking out the lake Friday.
What experts do know is that this is not the first time a lake has had a sinkhole.Alachua Lake, near Gainesville, once allowed steamers to haul fruit from Micanopy to Gainesville. But it drained 8 feet in 10 days in the 1800s -- leaving thousands of rotting fish, according to a Florida parks Web site.The lake never returned. It is now known as Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. It's home to wild horses, sandhill cranes and bison.
Scott Lake also could mimic Lake Jackson in Tallahassee.Lake Jackson acts like a bathtub about every 25 years, when sinkholes open and drain portions of the lake, according to a Department of Environmental Protection webpage.
But Scott Lake also could fall somewhere in between the extremes of sinkhole-riddled lakes.It could simply plug for good and fill up with the help of a healthy rainy season.Rick Powers, president and CEO of BCI Engineers & Scientists, who has been working with Scott Lake homeowners, said if you were to drain all of Central Florida's lakes, "there's a very good chance almost all of them would have some indication of karst activity (sinkholes)."Lake Hollingsworth has a large, old sinkhole in its northwest corner that is dormant, Powers said."It's not active and may stay that way for a thousand years or five thousand years," Powers said Friday. "You just don't know. But that's very common."(...)
Full text: Theledger.com

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