SinkholeAlert: Demonstrating Disaster with Data

Exploring the themes behind Sinkholes in the UK

At Terrafirma, understanding the ground is what we do best: Our CEO Tom Backhouse was recently asked to feature in Channel 5’s documentary Sinkholes to provide an expert insight into the roots behind their cause. Inevitably then, when high profile sinkholes such as those at Fontmell Close, in St Albans or in Wednesbury, causing up to six million pounds of damage and evacuating families from their homes, we ask ourselves “can sinkholes be predicted?”.

Over the last few months and years, the experts at Terrafirma have meticulously observed, understood and recorded each sinkhole as they form. Now, armed with this information, Terrafirma is proud to present a new dataset and report feature; ‘SinkholeAlert’, allowing our team to examine the common themes behind these hidden dangers. 

Sinkholes: Explained

Delve behind the scenes of the Channel 5 documentary on Sinkholes.

The word sinkhole has become a term broadly used term to describe any hole in the ground created by erosional processes and the drainage of water. Ground hazards in the UK are often synonymous with the word sinkhole which can span from just a few feet in diameter to gigantic chasms large enough to swallow whole buildings.

They can have devastating consequences as can be seen on the new three-part Sinkhole documentary which began on Monday 20 November on Channel 5 and features extensive commentary from sinkhole expert and Terrafirma CEO and founder, Tom Backhouse.

Terrafirma CEO on Rip Off Britain: Live

Terrafirma CEO Discusses Lender Policy on Mine Entries.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09bcsrc

Earlier today, Terrafirma's CEO and Founder, Tom Backhouse featured on the new series of the Rip Off Britain: Live Series on BBC One. Tom was invited on to offer advice to a frustrated home-owner who has fallen victim to her property being located close to an historical coal mine shaft, making it impossible to sell.

The property has seen its market value drop by £61,000 and despite being up for sale multiple times, it remained unsold earlier this year at a property auction in the West Midlands. 

The hidden risks the ground poses to farmers and landowners

Land. A word that is defined by its ownership, purpose, value or location and is often viewed, from a local, regional or national economic perspective, for its agricultural or development potential. However, land in the UK is also defined by our geological and extraction history, both of which can pose significant risks to property, investment and people. 

Could the Wednesbury 'Sinkhole' have been predicted?

The formation of a ‘sinkhole’ beneath a property in Wednesbury, West Midlands has received abundant coverage from the mainstream media during the last week. At Terrafirma, we have been looking into this event to try and understand more about its cause and wider context.

Collapse/Sinkhole in Brow Gate, Baildon

On September 25th, 2017, a large sinkhole appeared on the pavement at a pedestrian crossing in Brow Gate, Baildon, causing traffic disruption indefinitely.  According to a pedestrian, the sinkhole opened within a time frame of a few minutes. Gas engineers from Northern Gas Networks are assessing the damage.

The local geological conditions are favourable for subsidence; superficial till (composed of clay) deposits shrink under prolonged dry conditions and 19th Century, unrecorded utilities infrastructure may be the cause of the collapse.