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Video: Western Kansas Sinkhole Continues to Deepen

A massive sinkhole in western Kansas continues to grow. The sinkhole recently developed in Wallace County, near the town of Sharon Springs.

By the time it was noticed by a rancher, the hole was more than 200 feet across and 90 feet deep.

The sinkhole has taken many by surprise, though not Rex Buchanan, who heads the Kansas Geological Survey.

"Certainly, the location isn't surprising. Wallace County has had sort of a history of producing these things, and I've been to some of those locations, so in that sense it's not surprising," Buchanan said. "This is a pretty good-sized one, but the other ones out there are pretty good-sized as well. This doesn't occur every day, but it's certainly not out of the ordinary."

Buchanan said sinkholes like this one are created by the dissolution of underlying rock deposits, such as chalk or salt.

Some have suggested this sinkhole was caused by the removal of too much water from the Ogallala Aquifer, or perhaps the collapse of an old oil well. Buchanan says that's not the case because the aquifer is not present in that location, nor are there any oil wells in the immediate area.

J. Schafer is the News Director of Kansas Public Radio at the Univeristy of Kansas. He’s also the Managing Editor of the Kansas Public Radio Network, which provides news and information to other public radio stations in Kansas and Missouri. Before joining KPR in 1995, Schafer spent 10 years as a commercial radio and TV newsman. During his career, he's filed stories for nearly every major radio news network in the nation including ABC, NBC, CBS, AP, UPI, the Mutual Broadcasting System, NPR and the BBC. This seems to impress no one. At KPR, he produces feature stories, interviews and newscast items and edits the work of others. In the fall of 2000, he performed contract work for the U.S. State Department, traveling to central Asia to teach broadcast journalism at newly independent radio stations in the former Soviet Union. One of his passions is Kansas; learning about and promoting the state’s rich heritage, people and accomplishments. Schafer gives presentations about Kansas to various organizations around the state to remind residents about our awesome history and incredible people. A native of Great Bend, he studied journalism and mass communications at Barton County Community College and at the University of Kansas. He was also an exchange student to Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. The “J.” in J. Schafer stands for Jeremy, but he doesn’t really care for that name. He also enjoys the pretentiousness of using just a single initial for a first name!