Will the world end by getting sucked down a black hole in Siberia? We’re a long way from that but getting closer every day, according to people living … or formerly living … near a sinkhole in Solikamsk, Russia, that has quadrupled in width in just nine months with no sign of stopping, closing up or taking a break to belch.
Where is Solikamsk disappearing to? On November 18, 2014, Uralkali – the largest potash fertilizer producer in Russia – evacuated thousands of workers from its Solikamsk-2 mine in Solikamsk, a seasonal cottage community about 1,000 miles northeast of Moscow that is built entirely over the Solikamsk-2 and Solikamsk-1 potash mines.
Flooding caused a sinkhole to open near the mine measuring about 30 meters (100 feet) across. No one was injured but local residents were nervous as the company told workers to stay away until things settled down.
Which they haven’t. The flooding continued and by February 2015, the sinkhole had grown to 87 meters (285 feet) across and 75 meters (250 feet) deep and was swallowing cottage homes like a hungry kid eating gingerbread houses.
The company said the mine was “stable” but mining operations stayed halted while crews continued to pump brine out from one side to fill up the other, shore up walls and salvage equipment.