By Grant Bissell

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - By now you've probably seen the video of a Florida home being swallowed by a massive sinkhole. But you might not realize that sinkholes are also very common in Missouri.

If you want to see mature sinkholes in our area, go no further than Jefferson Barracks Park in St. Louis County. The bowl-shaped holes dot the area and can be seen as small circular lines on a topographical map.

So just what is a sinkhole? The US Geological Survey says they're places where soil covers a gap in soft bedrock like limestone or gypsum. As rain and ground water eat away, the gap grows larger. Sometimes the gap causes the soil to collapse. And over time the soil can plug the gap and create a bowl-shaped sinkhole.

According to the USGS, about 20 percent of the country is susceptible to sinkholes. The most damage tends to occur in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.

Doug Lambert is a geophysicist for Geotechnology Incorporated. His company tests the ground for possible sinkholes before buildings are constructed.

Lambert says while sinkholes are spread all over our area, the likelihood of a major collapse beneath your home is pretty slim.

"There was probably a geotechnical survey done of the neighborhood," said Lambert. "And unless you had a sinkhole on your property in the past, I don't see an issue."

Lambert says sinkholes are much more common in Missouri than in Illinois, where residents have to worry more about mines collapsing.

It's important to note that regular homeowner's insurance might not cover a sinkhole collapse.

If you're concerned about what's under your home, consider calling your insurance company and the Illinois or Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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