17 Apr 2024

Sinking Cities: Beyond Joshimath, This Russia City Is Also Gradually Disappearing Into Earth

The revelation of land subsidence in Joshimath, Uttarakhand, sent shock waves through the community, prompting concerns about the safety of its residents. This city, now labeled a 'sinking zone,' is not alone in its plight. Across the globe, Berezniki, a city nestled in the Ural mountains of Russia, grapples with a similar fate, as it gradually disappears into the earth.

Berezniki's downfall can be traced back to its foundation as it is situated directly above a potash mine, a common occurrence during the Soviet era. Decades of relentless excavation created vast underground caverns, supported precariously by soluble salt walls and pillars. In 2006, disaster struck as a freshwater spring breached the mine's depths, causing the collapse of buildings above ground.

Chasm is over two hundred meters in depth

The most significant casualty of this sinkhole calamity is "The Grandfather," a chasm spanning four hundred meters in width and over two hundred meters in depth. Its impact extends beyond mere infrastructure, potentially jeopardizing the sole rail line connecting to potash mines responsible for a significant portion of the world's production.

Relocation Plans Emerge Amidst Growing Sinkhole Crisis

Contemplating the future, officials and mining companies discuss the relocation of Berezniki across the Kama River, where stable ground offers a promising refuge. Assurances from engineers regarding the cessation of sinkhole formation provide a glimmer of hope amidst the crisis. However, with approximately 12,000 residents already departing by early 2019, those opting to remain face stringent oversight in the precarious environment.

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