Those gaping holes in the ground that seem to appear out of nowhere, sometimes swallowing up cars or even entire homes, are not signs of end times. Rather the phenomena are natural, though human activities can also trigger the holes to open up, and happen when groundwater eats away at the sediment or rocks beneath the ground surface. In the U.S., the gouges are most common in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Beneath the ground in these states are rocks such as limestone, carbonates and salt beds that are easily dissolved.
Here, a sinkhole opened up on Amsterdam Avenue, on the Upper West Side in New York City, after a water main broke and water started flowing out from the broken pipe. This image was snapped on Aug. 30, 2016, as pedestrians stopped to look at the city hole.
Check out these insane images of sinkholes, including some that are not scary at all, but rather have turned into swimming holes and gorgeous tourist attractions.
Chicago street hole
In the spring of 2013, a 15-foot-deep (4.6 meters) sinkhole swallowed three vehicles on a residential street in the South Deering neighborhood in Chicago. Here, workers get ready to pull the "swallowed" truck out of the sinkhole on April 18.
Another view of the sinkhole that emerged in April 2013 in South Deering in Chicago. Three vehicles were caught in the hole; the driver of one vehicle, a truck, had to be hospitalized.
A sinkhole opened up in Manchester, England, after a heavy rain on Aug. 14, 2015. Downpours of up to 0.8 inches per hour (20 millimeters/hour) led the Met office to issue flood warnings in the area. The crater, which started out at about 40 feet (12 meters) deep, continued to expand as the torrential rain came down, according to the Guardian.
On the morning of Nov. 14, 2013, a hole in the ground began to emerge between two houses in Dunedin, Florida, according to news reports. That day, the sinkhole consumed the rear part of one of the residential homes. The sinkhole reportedly grew to about 30 feet wide by 30 feet deep (9 by 9 meters).
Holes along the Dead Sea
As the Dead Sea, which is nearly 10 times saltier than the ocean, shrinks, giant sinkholes are popping up along its shores. Every year for the past few decades, the Dead Sea has receded about 3 feet (1 meter), as water gets diverted from the Jordan River and as a result of mineral mining there. When the briny water from the Dead Sea recedes, fresh groundwater comes in to take its place. That groundwater dissolves layers of salt to create these giant underground cavities, above which the sinkholes emerge.
Swallowing a lane
A massive sinkhole opened up on Route 62 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (seen here on June 2, 2013), as a result of flash floods in the area. On June 5, the hole was about 200 feet long, 60 feet wide and 15 feet deep (60 by 18 by 5 meters), according to News9.com. The sinkhole covered a lane of the state highway.
On Dec. 3, 2010, a car got trapped in a sinkhole after a broken water main caused part of Friendship Blvd. in Chevy Chase, Maryland, to collapse. No one was reported injured.
Firefighters dispatched to investigate a flooding in the Valley Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, instead found themselves trapped in a sinkhole. The firetruck driver saw a lot of water and started to back up when the truck fell into the pit, which reportedly was the result of a broken 6-inch cast iron pipe. Nobody was hurt. Here, the truck is protruding from the sinkhole, on Sept. 8, 2009.
The Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa talks to reporters near a 22-ton Los Angeles Fire Department firetruck, which backed into this sinkhole on Sept. 8, 2009, in the Valley Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
A massive landslide, measuring 200 feet by 240 feet (60 by 73 meters), opened up on Oct. 3, 2007, near San Diego, California. The landslide tore apart the pavement on Soledad Mountain Road in La Jolla's Mount Soledad neighborhood. The landslide reportedly damaged or destroyed six homes.