Mysterious Sinkholes are Forming by One of the World's Tallest Buildings

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

When it's finished, Korea's Lotte World Tower will be one of the world's tallest buildings. Unfortunately, crews are encountering some problems as they near the top: small sinkholes are forming in the neighbourhood, and a nearby lake is mysteriously emptying into... hopefully not the base of the sixth tallest building in the world.

The tower, which has taken more than a decade to get going, is due to be completed by 2016. But as it reaches its upper climes, odd things have been happening, as the AP reports. First, wide sinkholes appeared in the street in Songpa, which is a residential area surrounding the construction site.

Then, according to Dezeen, a lake nearby the tower began to "mysteriously shrink," dropping from more than 16 feet (4.9m) to 14 feet (4.2m), and water was seen pooling in the tower's basement:

Park Chang-kun, a civil engineering professor at Kwandong University, noted the presence of underground water pooling in the sixth basement level and suggested it may have come from the lake.

It's entirely plausible that these sinkholes and the leakage from the lake are unrelated to construction—but South Korean officials aren't taking any chances. According to The Korea Herald, they've called in a huge four-month review of experts from around the world to establish a baseline reading of what's going on, and they've stopped work on a nearby set of residential units out of concern about sinkholes.

Mysterious Sinkholes Are Forming By One of the World's Tallest Buildings

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon.

The AP also notes that South Korea has been, understandably, more focused on safety standards and disaster preparedness after the tragic ferry accident that killed nearly 300 people in April. It never hurts to be wary—especially when you're responsible for a structure that reaches the outer edge of what's physically possible to build on Earth. [AP; Korea Herald; Dezeen]