A 60-year old male farm worker died when a sinkhole opened up under him in an agricultural field in Queen Creek, Arizona, south of Phoenix, on Friday afternoon.
We are investigating whether the sinkhole could be part of a larger earth fissure that could extend to homes or roads. Our initial review suggests that is not likely.
Joe Cook, who heads our Earth Fissure Mapping Program reports that the site of the Friday death is not near any known earth fissures or in an area normally prone to forming fissures. Arizona Dept. of Water Resources does not show any active subsidence in that area either. In the news videos you can see the water is pouring in from the surface before they blocked the canal with dirt. Because it’s an agricultural area and there has been a lot of tilling and drainage manipulation/ponded water it’s possible this is collapse related to subsurface piping. The collapse appears to be on a bermed portion adjacent to the field and water looks to be routed/ponded there regularly.
This video of the recovery effort courtesy of NBC News:
More local news reports at: