Farmers in Konya province, Turkey’s Central Anatolia region, are desperately watching their fields in danger from hundreds of giant holes engulfing the land and crops.
Although the appearance of these huge holes is very reminiscent of the Siberian hydrolacoliths or bulgunnyakhs, which are caused by the accumulation of methane in bags of thawed permafrost, the case of Turkey is totally different.
These types of holes began to appear at the beginning of the century, but over the years it has accelerated. According to data from the Sinking Research Center of Konya Technical University, this year the situation has become alarming because since January around 600 holes have been registered, compared to 350 last year.
Konya province is known as Turkey’s granary because of the vast sea of wheat that stretches on all sides. But while the region remains the country’s main agricultural center, the persistent drought that has plagued this area for years has caused an unforeseen problem that has only gotten worse in recent years: sinkholes.
According to The vanguardAs farmers increasingly turn to groundwater to keep their crops alive, giant caverns that drain of water eventually collapse under the weight of the soil. These sinkholes create the huge holes tens of meters wide and up to 150 meters deep.
I have dived into the issue of drought for the past few months & finally last week went to go see sinkholes with @volkikam in Karapınar in Konya which is described as Turkey’s breadbasket. Farmers & experts say sinkholes are increasing as drought worsens. https://t.co/uKpmwXglqM pic.twitter.com/HU5mTm0beV
– Raziye Akkoç (@RazAkkoc) April 22, 2021
Professor Fetullah Arik, who heads the Sinking Research Center at Konya Technical University, says that sinkholes are a fairly recent phenomenon observed in the last 10 to 15 years, but that the cause of the problem dates back to the decade of 1970. “It was then that the uncontrolled irrigation of groundwater began in the area, a practice that unfortunately continues to this day”revealed.
These types of sinkholes are almost exclusive to the Konya Plain, due to the characteristics of the land, the direction of the water flow, combined with the reclining of the groundwater.
“Farmers try to find solutions to fill the sinks, but in the end, they cannot be filled properly because the void under the ground is wider than what is seen with the naked eye. It is better to mark the area with a drainage sign to avoid accidents », said Arik.
Although they have not yet caused human casualties, the holes are increasingly appearing closer to human settlements and the fact that scientists cannot predict where or when they will occur means that the risks are high.
Photo: Video capture.