As residents of a small Nova Scotia town gathered Thursday for a public information session about what created a large and active sinkhole near a busy Tim Hortons, a geologist suggested the high-tech tools needed to solve the mystery could soon be on their way.
Amy Tizzard, a regional geologist with the provincial Department of Energy and Mines, said the muddy sinkhole remains almost as big as two basketball courts – but it hasn’t grown much in the last week.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s done, though,” she said in an interview from Oxford, N.S., a town of 1,000 roughly 30 minutes from the New Brunswick border.
“It’s still an unpredictable situation … (But) it’s still eroding along its margins, only on the centimetre scale.”
The town recently issued a request for proposals to get the gear they need to look beneath the surface of the surrounding area – and the deadline for contractors was Wednesday.
“We want to find out the extent of the underground cavern responsible for this … sinkhole,” Tizzard said, suggesting there may be other sinkholes nearby that haven’t broken through the surface.
A geophysical survey is needed, using ground-penetrating radar and other tools, she said.
The ground beneath the Oxford area is known to contain gypsum and salt deposits, minerals that dissolve when infiltrated by water.
WATCH: Officials worry about effect of heavy rains on Oxford sinkhole
First reported in July as a hole the size of a dinner plate, the sinkhole has since swallowed trees, picnic tables and part of a parking lot near the Oxford and Area Lions Club.
The spectacle has been drawing curious onlookers to the small town, and has even caused minor car accidents.
Residents were to gather at a local theatre for an information session led by community liaison geologist Garth Demont. He was expected to offer details about sinkhole geology and gypsum deformation.