About 16,000 sinkholes originate in Missouri. For comparison, Tennessee has more than 54,000 sinkholes and Florida has about 12,000. Fletcher Bone with the state Department of Natural Resources tells Missourinet the depressions can be found statewide but are prevalent in certain parts of the state.

“Most of the sinkholes we have are in the Ozarks Uplift area, which is basically south of the Missouri River, east of Sedalia and northwest of Poplar Bluff,” Bone says.

Sinkhole in southwest Missouri’s Christian County

Southeast Missouri’s Perry County could have the most sinkholes because the area has the most caves.

The collapsed surfaces take shape when carbon dioxide and rain water connect and move toward openings in bed rock. They eventually expand and form tunnels, caves or sinkholes.

Bone says the size of sinkholes can vary dramatically.

“We’ve seen ones that might only be six inches in diameter and other ones that are multiple acres in size,” Bone says.

Missouri’s largest one can be found near Rocheport in the central part of the state.

“It’s approximately 700 acres in size,” Bone says. “Lengthwise, it’s about 2.2 miles long and is about one mile wide. The depth of that one is around 100 feet.”

As for the state’s deepest sinkhole?

Sinkhole in southern Missouri’s Howell County

“The deepest one in Missouri that I know of is called Slaughter Sink. It’s over in Phelps County,” he says. “It’s about 175 feet deep. It covers about three or four acres in size for that particular sinkhole.”

Bone says sinkhole reports often increase during certain times of the year.

“Around March, after you’ve had a bunch of the freeze and thaw cycle happening, he says. “Then you start getting some rain, you’ll start getting things washing out. Then also of course later in the spring, when you have a lot more water washing through there. Also, a little bit after August, sometimes if you’ve had a really dry summer and you get a little bit of fall rain.”

To report a sinkhole in Missouri, click here.

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