sinking ground

My wife just noticed a dip in our backyard that wasn't there previously. It's probably a foot long, 6 inches wide, and 6 inches deep at most.
Aside from monitoring it, is there anything proactive I can do to prevent/reduce damage?
When we moved in a year ago an orange marker had been placed about 5 feet east of this dip so I was wondering if perhaps a pipe of some kind may have burst creating a cavity that is collapsing. Who would I call to find out if this happened? My parents had something similar on their house and had half the front yard excavated, if I recall the amount they paid was substantial.
My bigger worry is that it's actually a sinkhole. We're in an extreme drought (Williamson County in Texas) and I know the area (Central Texas) is known for aquifers/caves. How do I even begin in detecting this and is there a remedy aside from moving out? Does insurance typically cover this should a giant hole form in my backyard (and potentially suck up my house)?
Maybe it's just dirty sinking in where someone had dug a trench previously, but I only know that the ground was marked and that was over a year ago with no sinking until recently.
Any other reasons the ground may have sunk?
Thanks!
-- gorf
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gorf wrote:

How old is the home? If it is new or almost new, it is likely there is some kind of utility under there and they just did not backfill properly. The marking of it would lead me to suspect there is a utility there and it is just a matter of poor work filling it.
However you do bring up a problem with your local area. I know the idea of a sink hole in your area is possible but that's about all I know. I would want to follow up on that one if I were you.
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Joseph Meehan

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Get a spade and dig down some where the depression is and see if you find anything in the first foot or two. For the few minutes it will take to do an exploratory dig, it may save you time and money. Ric

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Good suggestion. It could be that the builder just backfilled a whole bunch of construction debris, and now it's rotting.

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Are you sure its new, where I have trees I cut down level the stump rots underground eventualy giving way to a hole, I have a few I fill every year. Poor rotting fill, a break in a water or sewer line, an old covered well, alot of things can cause that.
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Ric Shaw wrote:

I would be careful about that one. I suggest the BEFORE YOU DIG 800 number first. You don't want to cut your utility lines or as I did once, the gas line.
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I THINK NOT SUCH A GREAT IDEA - AT LEAST UNTIL YOU CALL AND HAVE THE UTILITIES MARKED.

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If your area is prone to sink holes, get it checked right away. My area has them, and they can swallow up whole houses. Make sure you keep your home-owner's insurance current.

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i had that same problem and there was a 55 gallon drum buried that finally rusted out. around here in ky you call a 800 number bfore you dig and they send out a guy to mark all pipes and underground metal. lucas
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On Sun, 8 Jan 2006 15:52:50 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net wrote:

All of these answers are good.
Also, it could be the entrance to Hell.
I heard it was in Texas.
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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mm wrote:

It's moved to Pennsylvania Ave. in D.C. now.

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mm wrote:

not in Texas but you can see it from here.
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gorf wrote:

In my area I would call the "Diggers Hotline" which is run by the various utility companies.
They would come out and mark any utilities by type for any area you are planning on working in.
If the indication is a sewer pipe you then need to arrange to either dig down to it or get a plumber with inspection camera. If it is a sewer main the utility will handle that.
A broken water pipe might have a similar appearance and I would push a metal rod into the ground. You will either hit a void and / or get water coming up the rod.
If no utilities are in the area it would be sinkhole or rotting debris, maybe gopher.
In my area it might be frost heave from freezing and thawing soil. Probably not in Texas though.
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gorf wrote:

In my area I would call the "Diggers Hotline" which is run by the various utility companies.
They would come out and mark any utilities by type for any area you are planning on working in.
If the indication is a sewer pipe you then need to arrange to either dig down to it or get a plumber with inspection camera. If it is a sewer main the utility will handle that.
A broken water pipe might have a similar appearance and I would push a metal rod into the ground. You will either hit a void and / or get water coming up the rod.
If no utilities are in the area it would be sinkhole or rotting debris, maybe gopher.
In my area it might be frost heave from freezing and thawing soil. Probably not in Texas though.
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Somebody probably buried a pet or a child in that spot and the carcass is rotting away now.
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Maybe Jimmy Hoffa

feet
find
and
is
this
a
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