Researchers have found an additional hole at Mount Baldy. Supervisory Park Ranger Bruce Rowe from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore says it was about ten-inches in diameter in the surface of the dune, and maybe five feet deep, and resembled the size and shape of the hole described by family members of a young boy swallowed by sand on the giant dune last month. Rowe also says it had loose sand in the bottom, so it's possible it was deeper and some sand has filled it in somewhat.
To hear our interview with Bruce Rowe, visit News Audio on Demand here at our website.
Rowe also stresses that the hole that led to last month's rescue is NOT a sinkhole. "While this is new to science and we don't know what to call it yet, we do know that it is not a sinkhole," Rowe said. He says a sinkhole develops when you've got rock underneath the surface that's eroded by water and then gives way. With no rocks under Mount Baldy, " this is some sort of different phenomenon than a sinkhole."
National Park Service officials say the newly-discovered hole, which was east of the one six-year-old Nathan Woessner child fell into, was not created by any human activity and is believed to have formed as a natural phenomenon, but, although similar, they can't say for sure yet whether it's the same kind as the one that opened up last month. Additional equipment is being brought in today to collect sand samples from the hole.
The samples could provide the dates of the sand deposition under this area of loose sand.
The National Park Service has developed an investigation team comprised of NPS geologists and hydrologists and university researchers from several disciplines. The team will collectively make decisions about the progression of the investigation into the phenomenon associated with the conditions on Mt. Baldy.
The EPA conducted limited ground-penetrating radar (GPR) testing at Mt. Baldy on Monday, August 12, 2013 to initiate the park investigation. Park officials say it's hoped the GPR can provide a 3-D model of the dune (inside and out) as well as locate any anomalies within the dune that might require further investigation.
Additional testing and analysis of results will take weeks and the entire Mt. Baldy area will remain closed to the public until further notice. “We realize that many people would like to visit Mt. Baldy and we regret that the area is closed,” said park superintendent Constantine Dillon, “but the fact that we do not know what caused the original hole, and that a new hole has spontaneously appeared, reinforces our concern that Mt. Baldy is not safe for visitors at this time.”