A portion of a popular stretch of beach in Queensland, Australia was literally swallowed by the ocean between Sunday night and Monday morning in what experts are calling a “nearshore landslip” or “nearshore landslide” event.
Rainbow Beach Helicopters posted aerial footage to Facebook on Monday of Inskip Point, north of Noosa Heads, that shows a stretch of coast where once there was sandy beach eroded all the way to the treeline. It also isn’t far from where another sinkhole opened up back in 2015, taking a caravan, car, and camping gear with it.
Diana Journeaux from Rainbow Beach Helicopters told 7 News in Australia that the sinkhole must have appeared overnight. “We fly every day and it wasn’t there yesterday,” she said.
A Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokesperson told Mashable that the event was most likely caused “by the undermining of part of the shoreline by tidal flow, waves, and currents.”
“When this occurs below the waterline, the shoreline loses support and a section slides seaward leaving a hole, the edges of which retrogress back towards the shore,” the spokesperson added.
“In technical terms, such an event is better called a ‘nearshore landslip’ than a ‘sinkhole.'”
Compared to the sinkhole that made headlines in 2015, Glen Cruickshank from Rainbow Beach Helicopters told ABC News Australia that this event appears to have been on a bigger scale.
“This new hole — it’s through the beach, it’s through the trees, it’s a round hole, quite deep and quite big,” he said.
University of the Sunshine Coast associate lecturer in Earth Sciences, Peter Davies, told ABC News that due to the instability of this stretch of beach, he’s convinced it will happen again.
“It will basically collapse because of this undermining of the material by the current going in and out,” he said. “It will repair itself, but it will almost certainly happen again.”
The Department of Environment and Science explained in a statement that no members of the public were injured, nor have any local campsites been affected by the event. Still, visitors are being told to monitor current park alerts and stay clear of the impacted section of beach.