About a dozen houses in Black Hawk, South Dakota, were evacuated after a sinkhole opened under the Hideaway Hills development. The ground started to give way on the 27th of April and while it has left a lot of uncertainty for the locals, the situation has led to a unique discovery. The residential homes were built over an abandoned gypsum mine.
The authorities are already trying to figure out how this could’ve happened but in the meantime, explorers of a local caving group called Paha Sapa Grotto decided to take a look inside.
The Paha Sapa Grotto is a subchapter of the National Speleological Society and is a world leader in caving science, exploration, and conservation. “When we heard about the sinkhole, we knew it was on a geological unit that could potentially have caves in it,” Nick Anderson, a member of Paha Sapa Grotto, told Bored Panda. “We also knew that county emergency management wouldn’t have much experience in this area so we offered to help to determine the scope of the problem.”
“Upon entering, we immediately realized that it was an abandoned gypsum mine and not a cave”
“The room we entered was 15 feet tall and 60 feet wide. We got a quick look around and exited”
The cavers returned the next night. This time, there were two teams of explorers, equipped with survey gear and ready to map the mine
“We determined that the mine was over 2K feet across and over 150 feet wide. It went directly under at least 12 homes”
However, even the Paha Sapa Grotto couldn’t safely explore all of the corners of the sinkhole
“The full extent of the mine is still unknown as passages are either collapsed in, flooded, or too dangerous to enter”
Currently, the county is trying to get a grant to help cover the cost of the home value as these homes are now worthless
Residents of the Hideaway Hills subdivision are suing South Dakota, Meade County, and developers of the subdivision for more than $75,000,00
The lawsuit on behalf of 119 homeowners also includes counts against title companies involved in sales of the homes, attorneys for previous owners, and real estate agents who sold the homes
The residents are seeking more than $35,000,000 in compensatory damages, $40,000,000 in exemplary damages, and “such other relief as the court deems equitable”