Now it's Korea's turn
It has been brought to my attention, however, that unlike the Russian sinkholes, which occurred in relatively remote areas, there are now news reports from the country of South Korea that they, too, are experiencing sinkholes. However, theirs are in very populous areas of the capital city of Seoul, Korea, where a number of holes have been popping up in neighborhoods around town since about July 21.
World’s 6th tallest building in jeopardy
Aside from the panicking populace, who have every right to be extremely concerned about this threat, there are also numbers of businesspeople who are also quite alarmed. That is because they fear that this rash of sinkholes is considered a threat to the construction of the world’s 6th tallest building. (When finished, this new building is supposed to reach just a little higher than One World Trade Center in Manhattan, in the colony [excuse me, I keep forgetting, state of] New York.)
According to the news reports, the sinkholes “are causing safety concerns.” So far, only 70 of the 123 floors have been completed, but the number of new sinkholes on the roads is causing people in residential neighborhoods a great deal of worry.
Lotte Moolsan, a spokesperson for the construction firm, claims that these sinkholes are too far away from the actual site of the 123-story building, so therefore the two are not connected.
Sink or swim?
Add to the sinkhole mystery, however, another one: nearby, a lake that the new tower overlooks seems to be getting smaller at the same time — and nobody seems to know the cause for this phenomenon, either. Moolsan, from the construction firm, admits that they’ve been pumping water into the lake just to keep its levels up. It’s reported that the lake has already dropped from an original level of 16 feet down to 14.
To be honest, as a scientist, while I have far-reaching interests and curiosity about all manner of phenomena in the natural world, I also know my limits. My expertise is not in the area of geology. But that does not make this sinkhole situation any less of a subject of concern for me. I wish I understood a bit more about the science behind this.
According to our own United States government experts, a sinkhole is “an area of ground that has no natural external surface drainage — when it rains, all of the water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the subsurface. Sinkholes can vary from a few feet to hundreds of acres and from less than 1 to more than 100 feet deep.”
So, I truly do not know how to interpret the assertion that the construction is not a cause of the sinkholes. But whether it is or not, if the land beneath this new building is at all subject to the same uncertainties and shifting soil problems that are occurring in the sinkhole areas, then there is a serious dilemma, indeed.
Keep building, or not?
Should the construction continue, in the face of safety concerns? I am certain that no one, businesspeople included, would want to see the project compromised.
Not having that much experience with these amazing new towers you 21st century people call “skyscrapers,” I cannot say that I have a lot of insight into architectural, engineering, and construction issues regarding their margin of safety.
But if I were considering buying office space in a 123-story building that was allegedly built on shaky ground, my common sense would tell me that I would be taking my life in my hands each time I set foot in the building.
Your humble servant,