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40-foot sinkhole swallows part of Tennessee football field

By Tim Ghianni

(Reuters) - Engineers were working Tuesday to close a yawning sinkhole that gobbled up a part of the end zone of a Tennessee university's football stadium.

The 40-foot-wide and 40-foot-deep chasm appeared at the Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, as a construction crew on Monday tried to fill in a much smaller hole that was discovered during a $19 million facelift of the stadium.

"As they began digging, it became bigger and bigger and bigger," said Bill Persinger, spokesman for the 10,000-student university, located about 50 miles northwest of Nashville.

Persinger said the construction company and engineers are working toward a "permanent fix" and that the field would be ready by kick-off of the football season in September.

While this sinkhole is larger than most, it's not a rare occurrence on the campus.

"I've seen dozens of them. They come up all the time" in the region and on the campus, Persinger said.

Sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved as groundwater circulates through them, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. As the rock dissolves, spaces and caverns develop underground.

A 40-foot sinkhole opened up under the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky in February, swallowing eight collector cars.

And last year a sinkhole in Florida swallowed a section of a resort villa near Disney World.

(Reporting By Carey Gillam; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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