Sinkholes are depressions in the land surface or holes in the ground caused by subsidence or collapse of surficial material into openings in soluble rock. Sinkholes usually develop in "karst" areas underlain by carbonate rocks. Karst is defined as "terrane with distinctive characteristics of relief and drainage arising primarily from a higher degree of rock solubility in natural waters than is found elsewhere" (Jennings, 1971, p.1). In addition to sinkholes, other features associated with karst are: caves, disappearing streams, and well-developed subsurface drainage systems.
The effect of rapid growth in the Hockessin and Pleasant Hill areas in northern Delaware has caused concern about possible declines in ground-water recharge to the underlying Cockeysville Formation. The Cockeysville is a major source of ground water (aquifer) in the Hockessin area from which about 1.5 million gallons of water per day is withdrawn for public water supply, even though it receives recharge over a relatively small area of 1.6 square miles. The Cockeysville in the Pleasant Hill area is currently used as a source at water supply for individual domestic users and one school. Results of ground-water exploration in the Pleasant Hill area suggest that the Cockeysville is capable of yielding several hundreds of gallons per minute to individual wells for water supply. A two-year investigation was undertaken to map the extent of the Cockeysville Formation and address questions of long-term ground-water yields. the sources of recharge, and the effects of additional development on ground-water supplies. Results of various field studies were integrated to determine the basic geologic framework and those elements that particularly affect ground-water supply.