A central Croatian region, about 40 km southwest of the capital Zagreb, is littered with round holes of all sizes that occurred after the 6.4 magnitude earthquake in December that killed seven people and caused widespread destruction.
Scientists flocked to Mecencani and other villages in the sparsely populated region for observation and investigation.
« These are so-called dropout sinkholes, which were created due to the specific geological composition of this area, as the soil is heavily loaded with Groundwater rests on saturated limestone cliffs, « said geologist Josip Terzic of the Croatian Geological Survey.
While sinkholes are not uncommon to appear after strong seismic activity, residents were stunned by their number – around 100 have been discovered in the past two months – and the speed at which they emerged after the major quake on December 29th followed by a series of aftershocks. Geologists have said that the Temblor accelerated the process of sinkhole formation that would normally have taken years, if not decades.
According to Terzic, scientists are planning various exploration methods to determine underwater morphology and other properties. He spoke to The Associated Press when he was standing next to a large sinkhole hole that he said was up to 15 meters deep and the same width.
Some sinkholes have popped up in people’s homes or on their farmland, what urges the authorities to advise caution. Nenad Tomasevic, a teacher from Mecencani, said it was all too much.
“The earthquake itself felt pretty uncomfortable to say the least. And then these holes appeared, ”said Tomasevic, who had to move into a neighbor’s house after an expanding hole appeared in his backyard.
» Experts say these sinkholes form naturally over time but the earthquake acted as a catalyst that accelerated the whole process, « he added.
About three months after the earthquake, the hardest hit area is still struggling with its devastation. Many houses are still in ruins and the main town of the region, Petrinja, is half deserted. Occasional earthquakes, including earthquakes of magnitude 4 or greater, are still being felt, further angering residents and adding to the coronavirus pandemic problems.
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