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Graphic: How a pothole forms Add to ...

Stage 1

The weight of vehicles causes depressions in the asphalt where cracks can start to form. These cracks allow moisture to get into the earth below the asphalt.

Stage 2

When that water freezes, it expands, pushing the pavement up. This raised surface gets more impact from the vehicles on it.

Stage 3

When the temperature rises, the pavement stays where it is but the earth returns to normal as the water evaporates, creating a cavity that has no support underneath it.

Stage 4

The pavement crumbles under the weight of the vehicles on it, revealing the space below and creating a pothole.


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