Sinkhole development resulting from ground-water withdrawal in the Tampa area, Florida

Water-Resources Investigations Report 81-50
Prepared in cooperation with the Southwest Florida Water Management District



The area of municipal well fields on the Gulf Coastal Plain north of tampa, Fla., is densely pitted with natural sinkholes and sinkhole lakes that have resulted from collapse of surficial sand and clay into solution cavities in the underlying carbonate rocks of the Floridan aquifer. Although solution of the underlying rocks is the ultimate cause of sinkholes, some have been induced by abrupt changes in ground-water levels caused by pumping. Declines in water levels cause loss of support to the bedrock roofs over cavities and to surficial material overlying openings in the top of bedrock. The volume of calcium, magnesium , and carbonate (the constituents of limestone and dolomite) in solution in the water withdrawn from four well fields near Tampa totaled about 240,000 cubic feet in 1978. Most induced solution takes place at the limestone surface however, and the area of induced recharge is so extensive that the effect of induced limestone solution on sinkhole development is negligible. Alinement of established sinkholes along joint patterns in the bedrock suggests that a well along these lineations might have direct hydraulic connection with a zone of incipient sinkholes. Therefore, pumping of large-capacity wells along such lineations would increase the probability of sinkhole development. Although sinkholes generally form abruptly in the study area, local changes such as vegetative stress, ponding of rainfall, misalinement of structures, and turbidity in well water are all indications that percollapse subsidence may be taking place. (USGS)

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Sinkhole development resulting from ground-water withdrawal in the Tampa area, Florida
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 81-50
DOI 10.3133/wri8150
Edition -
Year Published 1982
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Description iv, 19 p.; ill., maps; 28 cm.
First page i
Last page 19
Country United States
State Florida
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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