ST. LOUIS — There is a reason that Missouri is known as the Cave State. There are thousands of sinkholes and caves. Many of them are formed when limestone rock is washed away by groundwater. This is a process that has been happening for millions of years, and conditions are favorable in Missouri for them to keep forming. More are being discovered every day.
University of Missouri Geology Professor Martin Appold tells KREI radio that the sinkholes are spread throughout the state. There are around 16,000 and many of them are clustered in the southwest portions of the state. You can find them near Springfield, West Plains, and the Lake of the Ozarks.
One of the largest sinkholes can be found near Viburnum, Missouri in the Mark Twain National Forest. The Reynolds County sinkhole formed in 2020 and is about the size of a baseball field. It has seen its share of tourists and appears to be getting bigger.
There are sinkholes and sink areas in urban environments too. The Anheuser-Busch and Lemp breweries chose their locations because of access to caves. The cool and consistent underground temperatures are ideal for brewing beer. There are sinkholes and sink areas near the caves. They still sit under the many neighborhoods that sprouted up as the city grew.
The sink areas are not only located near the breweries. They can be found in many other portions of St. Louis and across the state. You can see where they are located in these Missouri maps from 2018 surveys of the state.