The sinkhole which has appeared in the Mirador at Villaricos. Photo. Bob Hester.

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While La Vox de Almería attributes the sink hole that appeared on March 18th at Villaricos to sea erosion, the more likely cause is water ingress from the landward side.

Generally, sinkholes are formed when an underground drainage system is compromised. The soil above the fracture gradually enters the system and is washed away, and over time, more and more soil is eroded creating a void, Eventually, the stable, surface covering collapses into what we call a sinkhole.

The road, Calle las Torvas, running up from the Mirador, was built over the conveyor belt tunnel used for carrying ore to the transfer station at the end of the loading pier. The land needed to be raised to the level of the ore storage hoppers which flanked the conveyor. (Torvas is the local pronunciation of Tolvas, meaning hoppers.)

The level was raised to the top of the hoppers, covering the conveyor. Photo. Pedro Jiménez Morata.
The conveyor belt up to the transfer station. Photo from El Abuelo’s Facebook page.

Water, filtering from the Almagrera mountain range north of Villaricos, was a problem when the loading pier was in operation and required pumping out. Ventilation for the pumps and for the conveyor motors was via a chimney – the base of which is now a flower bed – in Calle Baria, just before the Cala Verde turning.

The base of the ventilation chimney for the pumps and conveyor motors.

Author’s photo.

The ventilation chimney seen from Calle Central. The photo probably dates from the 1960s

Taken from José Guerrero’s Facebook wall.

What steps were taken to channel the water when the area was filled is anyone’s guess. Elderly locals remember looking down the ventilation shaft before it was capped and seeing water, so ‘nothing’ is the likely answer. A previous sinkhole in the Paseo Maritime was filled with copious truck loads of material, so I have a sinking feeling that this one will receive the same treatment …

And water will, no doubt, continue to shape and reshape the landscape.

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  1. Fascinating the history behind it.
    Are there houses or buildings at risk in the area?
    It would be interesting for more information on the area like history of the old mining and what it produced. I have heard that there were silver and gold mines in the area.

  2. Good question and the answer is that it already exists.
    Check out “The Mining Geek’s Guide” under the menu Arts & Entertainment


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