Horizon, BBC2: Swallowed by a Sink Hole


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The Independent Culture

Deputy Duvall, the Florida policeman introduced last night's Horizon: Swallowed by a Sink Hole. His description was straight out of a horror movie: "It's like this thing was alive. It was turning, moving around, making noises. Y'know, almost like a growl."

I've seen enough episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to recognise a hell mouth when I hear of one, but according to geology professor and presenter Iain Stewart, the sinkholes that have recently popped up in Florida, Guatemala and China, are not a portend of the coming apocalypse. They are a perfectly explicable natural phenomena which, like everything else these days, has been exacerbated by us pesky humans and our mania for property development.

Professor Stewart was in Florida, the indisputable "Sinkhole Capital of the World", to meet with Jeremy Bush, whose brother Jeff was last seen when a the earth opened up directly under his bed and literally sucked him in. It was a tragic and freak accident that made global headlines but, as it turns out, sinkholes themselves are far from uncommon. This is especially the case in Florida, where the karst terrain is prone to erosion and surface collapse.

I had high hopes that Swallowed by a Sink Hole would transcend the geology documentary's remit and become something truly trashy and Channel 5-worthy. Yet, despite a script seemingly pieced together entirely from discarded B-movie tag lines, Professor Stewart's earnest motivation was clear. He wanted to educate us all about the qualities of carbonate mud – more's the pity.