A SINKHOLE which swallowed up gardens in Ripon could get bigger after further cracks appeared, experts have warned.
Officials will be keeping a close eye this weekend on the sinkhole which opened up in Magdalen’s Road in the early hours of Thursday.
Since the first reports the cracks have extended to almost twice the original footprint of the sinkhole, leading to concerns it could get bigger still, especially if it rains.
A dozen properties have been evacuated.
Three members of the British Geological Survey examined the site yesterday.
Dr Helen Reeves, Science Director of Engineering Geology, at the BGS said: “The reports that we have had from engineers we have spoken to Harrogate Borough Council, they have indicated further cracking today.
“Sinkholes and heavy rainfall are not a good situation, especially when there is some uncertainty around where utilities are.”
Dr Reeves said the sinkhole was similar in size to one two years ago which opened up beneath a 100-year-old building in nearby Magdalen’s Close, leaving it close to collapse.
The latest sinkhole is between 10m (32ft) and 15m (49ft) in depth, she said.
Harrogate Borough Council has advised residents not to drive their cars on the private road at the back of the properties as this could make the situation worse.
A statement said there was “the potential for further slippage around the hole.”
It added: “Residents in properties located close to the sinkhole are advised to be alert for potential issues such as the appearance of cracks or visible movement in floors or walls, unexpected noises, and if in any doubt contact the emergency services.
“All agencies will continue to monitor the location over the weekend and will reassess the situation on Monday.”