An Arkansas kayaker died on Saturday 9 June 2018 when a sinkhole opened up on a river bed, creating a whirlpool that sucked him in. Donald Wright, 64, from Searcy, was transversing a section of the Spring River known as Dead Man's Curve in Fulton County, when the sinkhole opened up, creating a strongly swirling vortex as water was drawn into an underground cavern. A second kayaker was injured in the incident.
Whirlpool on the Spring River in Arkansas that formed when a sinkhole opened up beneath the river on 9 June 2018. AP.
Sinkholes are generally caused by water eroding soft limestone or unconsolidated deposits from beneath, causing a hole that works its way upwards and eventually opening spectacularly at the surface. Where there are unconsolidated deposits at the surface they can infill from the sides, apparently swallowing objects at the surface, including people, without trace.
On this occassion the sinkhole is thought to have formed when the action of the river eroded limestone on the riverbed until it exposed an underground cave system, itself the ptoduct of thousands of years of erosion by water percolating through the rock, suddenly exposing a void beneath the river which caused the whirlpool to form. In time the cave is expected to fill with water, and the whirlpool will disappear.
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