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A man in Florida died after a sinkhole opened beneath his bedroom, swallowing him as he slept. A golfer broke his shoulder when a sinkhole opened on a golf course in Illinois. Suddenly it seems sinkholes are making news everywhere. But scientists insist they're a common and naturally occurring geologic phenomenon. Sinkholes usually occur on the fragile terrain called “karst," which underlies about 20 percent of the United States. Sinkholes also can be triggered by human activity. We learn what sinkholes reveal about the interconnectedness of life above and below ground, our freshwater supplies and climate change.
This simplified map shows the areas with potential for sinkholes and karst in the conterminous United States (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act in a rare bi-partisan effort. The bill is meant to speed the development of lifesaving treatments, but critics warn it may also allow ineffective or even harmful drugs onto the market.