Rome has been named European capital of sinkholes thanks to a network of ancient Roman and medieval tunnels that have left the city streets consumed by gigantic gorges.
Fears are growing in Rome about the speed at which the underground tunnels and quarries are collapsing, as it is on average According to The times.
Earlier this week, two parked cars, a Mercedes SUV and a Smart car, disappeared shockingly in a six meter deep and twenty meter long canyon in the Torpignattara district.
No one was injured in the collapse, which has been linked to a net leak in a garage under the street, according to The Guardian.
The sinkhole is only the latest in a long series of ‘catastrophic’ collapses in Italy’s capital, when a 2.4-meter gap appeared in May last year, while a massive 9-meter sinkhole also gobbled up six cars in 2018 in particular.
Sinkholes are caused by the destabilizing combination of the region’s sandy soil and layers of ancient ruins on which much of the modern city is built, weakening the soil above.
This week, two parked cars, a Mercedes SUV and a Smart car, disappeared shockingly in a six meter deep and 20 meter long gorge (photo) in the Torpignattara district.
Rome has been named European capital of sinkholes thanks to a network of ancient Roman and medieval tunnels that created gigantic gorges (photo: Sinkhole on May 25)
The ingress of water into the underground spaces is believed to have caused the old tunnels to collapse much more quickly in recent years.
“The speed has more than doubled in the last decade and Rome now has the European record for sinkholes,” said Dr. Stefania Nisio, a geologist at Italy’s Higher Institute for Environmental Research and Protection.
The geologist has previously claimed that the weakest part of the city is the east of Rome, where materials were mined in ancient times.
The network of ancient tunnels has caused sinkholes in Rome for years, but experts think the problem is quickly getting worse, with an average of 100 canyons now appearing in the city every year.
Twenty sinkholes opened in the first two months of 2021, one every three days on average, as the demand for underground tunnels increases.
Ancient Roman and medieval tunnels are responsible for the sinkhole problem in Rome, which was originally built on the outskirts of the city away from the crowds.
But Dr. Nisio said the suburbs have since been built on top, which has led to in some cases ‘disastrous results’.
This week’s sinkhole (above) was linked to a pipe leak, while water entering the underground spaces is believed to have caused old tunnels to collapse much more quickly
The sinkhole is only the latest in a long series of ‘catastrophic’ collapses in Italy’s capital, while a massive 30-foot sinkhole devoured six cars in 2018 (pictured)
In Rome, fears about the underground tunnels are growing, as an average of 100 sinkholes appear per year. Pictured: Giant 9 meter sinkhole in Rome in February 2018
Sinkholes (photo: gorge outside Pantheon last May) are caused by the destabilizing combination of the region’s sandy soil and layers of ancient ruins on which much of the modern city is built, weakening the soil above
Experts believe that the sinkholes have appeared more often in the last decade as water has flooded and enlarged the underground spaces.
As fears of the sinkhole problem grow, there is a growing demand to support the underground tunnels and quarries to prevent further gigantic soil collapses.
The ancient tunnels have been discovered in many parts of the capital, with networks in the Caffarella area forming a “labyrinth that you can walk in for two to three hours,” said Dr. Nisio.
She added that there have also been caves with ceilings up to five meters underground, including one under the Palatine Hill, most of the seven hills, with a shallow lake in it.
Dr. Nisio added, “Apart from the quarries, there are all the early Christian catacombs below Rome, many of which have been documented in earlier centuries but have yet to be rediscovered.”
The geologist said she and her colleagues are currently mapping the network of underground tunnels to discover new passageways.
A gardener recently drew Dr. Nisio’s attention to a network hidden under a park, which he claimed was used by “fascists” during the war to hide armaments.
Meanwhile, the crime gang Banda della Magliana used the tunnels for outings, while the Red Bridgade terrorists also used a tunnel after kidnapping of the politician Aldo Moro in 1978.
This week’s collapse is the latest incident in Europe’s sinkhole capital, as a building near the Colosseum had to be evacuated last January after a rift appeared.
There is a growing demand to support the underground tunnels and quarries to prevent further gigantic soil collapses. Pictured: Chasm swallowed cars in 2018
In May last year, a sinkhole (photo: view of the landslide area) more than two meters deep opened in front of the former Roman temple, the Pantheon, revealing ancient stones dating back to 27 BC.
Experts believe that the sinkholes have appeared more frequently in the past decade as a result of water inundating the underground spaces. Pictured: 30ft sinkhole appeared in 2018
Twenty sinkholes opened in the first two months of 2021, one every three days on average, as more and more tunnels are propped up. Pictured: Sinkhole in February 2018
Ancient Roman and medieval tunnels have been blamed for the sinkholes in Rome, which were originally built on the outskirts of the city. Pictured: Huge 9-meter gap swallowed six cars in 2018
Last year, the Piazza del Pantheon rediscovered its original Hadrian Era floor (pictured) after a sinkhole more than two meters deep was opened in front of the former Roman temple
And just months later, in May, a landslide more than six feet deep opened in front of the former Roman temple, the Pantheon, revealing ancient stones dating back to 27 BC.
The area was closed to the public at the time, so no one was injured, but during the tourist season, the event could have caused much more damage.
In February 2018, in particular, a huge 9 meter gap swallowed six cars and saw 20 families fleeing their homes in a residential area of Rome.
Dramatic images showed the extent of the road damage after the surface spontaneously crumbled, while thankfully no one was injured in the shocking collapse.
Sinkholes are a common phenomenon in Rome, with more than 100 openings recorded in 2019 and 175 in 2018.
In 2018, Rome announced a $ 18.6 million project to reduce the number of sinkholes around the city, which usually appear in the form of potholes rather than grand historical sites.
While the city is considered the sinkhole capital of Europe, it is not the only Italian city to have been hit by giant gorges that appear in the ground.
Dozens of vehicles disappeared into a sinkhole in Florence in May 2016, while a massive chasm in January swallowed several cars outside a hospital in Naples.