Flowing sand! Images show a massive 40-foot sinkhole in a cliff-side beauty spot near Sunderland that has formed a sunken beach
- The once human-sized Souter Hole at Whitburn, near Sunderland, has grown into an awe-inspiring 40-foot-wide giant
- The massive sinkhole first appeared as a small hole in the ground in 2003, but grew due to erosion
- Now it’s so big that a beach has been carved out with the sea forcing through a crack in one of the cliff walls
- Experts say the giant sinkhole, also known in geological terms as a ‘sinkhole’, most likely formed through seawater pushing through a fault in the limestone cliffs.
It used to be just a small hole in the ground, which was a minor inconvenience for local joggers and dog walkers coming to enjoy the view of the steep cliffs.
But the once human-sized Souter Hole at Whitburn near Sunderland has now grown into an awe-inspiring 40-foot-wide giant.
The massive “sinkhole” first appeared as a small hole in the ground in 2003. But due to erosion and landslides, the natural phenomenon has grown steadily.
It’s now so big that a hidden beach has been carved out inside, the sea forcing its way through a crack in one of the cliff walls.
Erosion and landslides have left a gaping hole in a field leading to the cliffs at Whitburn, near Sunderland
But the once human-sized Souter Hole in Whitburn, near Sunderland, has now grown into a 40-foot-wide monster – and in doing so, a secret has been revealed.
Beach artist Clair Eason, a former GP, captured the true expanse of the sinkhole while exploring the coast near her home.
She said: “This deep hole near Souter Point, South Shields, started out like a little hollow a few years ago.
“It’s becoming a huge beast, adding even more drama to the rugged coast.”
Experts say the giant sinkhole, also known in geological terms as a “sinkhole,” most likely formed due to seawater pushing through a fault in the limestone cliffs.
However, Vanessa Banks, head of the British Geological Survey’s Shallow Geohazards and Risks team, said such sinkholes are not uncommon in coastal areas.
Ms Banks, who has studied geology for 40 years, told MailOnline: “Sinkholes often form where you have cold water and deposits of glacial sand and gravel underlined by permeable rocks such as limestone. dolomitized or gypsum. “
Ms Banks said it was likely the hole had once been an area of depression, with softer sediment pushed up to sea level, or had been the result of cold sea water being pushed by the tides through a small cave – known in geological terms as a conduit.
The giant “sinkhole” first appeared as a small hole in the ground in 2003. But due to erosion and landslides, the natural phenomenon has grown steadily.
The National Trust was forced to cordon off the sinkhole that lies near the clifftop coastal path
The National Trust, which manages the cliff path around the sinkhole, is warning walkers and dog owners to avoid the area.
The charity was forced to cordon off the chasm that is near the coastal cliff path.
A spokesperson said: “We want all of our visitors to have an enjoyable, relaxed and safe visit to Whitburn Coastal Park.
“By its nature, the coastline is constantly changing, with some areas particularly prone to erosion and landslides.
“This sinkhole first appeared around 2003 and is regularly inspected.
The National Trust, which manages the cliff path around the sinkhole, is warning walkers and dog owners to avoid the area
“We put up fences and warning signs around this sinkhole, which is away from the main path along the cliff tops of Leas and Whitburn Coastal Park, known locally as Wherry.
“There are warning signs at key points along the cliff edges, as well as information boards for visitors in each parking lot.
“We urge people to take a moment to look at these signs and to stick to the main paths to ensure their safety, the safety of their children and their dogs.”