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Bob Hatcher, professor of geology, spoke with WBIR-TV Channel 10 about the potential causes of a giant sinkhole on Alcoa Highway that snarled traffic for hours and created headaches for thousands of drivers.

He said sinkholes happen when groundwater eats away at limestone, forming underground caves that can eventually cave in. “This is not unique to East Tennessee. These occur in many places in the eastern United States, so sinkholes are not all that uncommon, but we have our share of them here,” Hatcher said.

The Alcoa Highway problem may not technically have been a sinkhole, he said. “It may be a man-made situation where a lot of foundation material under the road may have been washed out by a leaky water main.” Listen to and read the story online.