Earthquake sinkhole under tabs

The
sinkhole in South Sound that appeared following the 5.9 magnitude earthquake last
month and the condos surrounding it will be closely monitored over the next
three months, according to engineers.

The
ground in the garden of the sea-front condos at Pirates Lair collapsed into a
20×30 foot hole in the quake. The area had to be cordoned off by police and
security guards were hired to keep curious members of the public away from the
scene.

“The
sinkhole has been temporarily filled to the engineer’s requirements. The
buildings are safe and we’re going to monitor for any more movement,” said
Derek Serpell of Karico Architects, the company tasked with overseeing the problem.

Karico
has hired Cayman Engineering Limited to fill the sinkhole and monitor its activity
over the next 12 weeks.

Two
families whose condos were on the edge of the sinkhole evacuated their homes
until the sinkhole was filled with earth the day after the earthquake. They
have since returned to Pirates Lair.

“We
are going to go through a three-month period of monitoring the sinkhole and the
buildings around it,” Mr. Serpell said.

“We
will take whatever steps are necessary after we have a full report of the
monitoring to ensure the buildings are safe,” he said.

A
licensed surveyor will oversee a series of tests over the coming months to determine
if there is any vertical movement of the ground.

“We’ll
run some telltales – pieces of glass that run across the cracks in the slabs – to
see if there is any evidence of movement,” Mr. Serpell said.

Engineers
are still trying to establish exactly why the sinkhole appeared, Mr. Serpell
said. “We’re looking at historical and geological information. Part of the
testing we will be doing is seismic refraction testing. We’ll go around the
entirety of the site and send sound waves through the ground to see if there
are further caverns.”

LOCALsinkholeSTORY

The sinkhole, which has since been filled in, appeared after the 19 January 5.9-magnitude earthquake in Grand Cayman. It was the only damage reported.
Norma Connolly

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