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Okay, so the house wasn’t swallowed by a sarlacc. But nor was it swallowed by a sinkhole, as the Associated Press is telling us.

You may have seen the news: “Family killed as home swallowed up by giant sinkhole in Quebec”, or variations upon a theme. If you look at the aerial photos, you’ll see scars of slumped land on one side, severing the road, cutting across the fields in an arc. But this slumped earth was not swallowed by a sinkhole, to disappear under ground, but simply moved sideways towards the river. The river channel is now buried, as is the land beside the river.

This is a landslide not a sinkhole.

Sinkholes truly are holes in which the land surface disappears into cavities below ground, or when these cavities collapse causing a depression. Landslides are lateral displacements of earth that occur when there isn’t enough friction between the layers of soil to keep the ground in one place. The ground surface slides down this low-friction surface, carrying and shunting dirt and houses down with it.