Planet Earth, since its birth, has witnessed many geographical movements forming new land on one side while collapsing land on the other side. This natural behavior of our planet to collapse a part of the land has led to the formation of holes that are impressive, yet devastating. The sucking away of land can take place anywhere in urban to ocean environments. This formation of holes is unpredictable and can happen anywhere, anytime. There are several factors responsible for the suction and are the combination of natural and man-made actions. Here is a list of the ten craziest, most capacious, impressive, and amazing sinkholes across the globe.
1. Heavenly Pit
The world’s deepest sinkhole mapped in China has a height of more than 626 meters, famous for its scenic beauties especially the waterfalls in the rainy season!
Xiaozhai Tiankeng is known to be the largest and deepest sinkhole in the world located in the gorgeous lush forests of Guangxi, China. This natural sinkhole has taken its name from an abandoned nearby village “Gist” which translates to a “little village”, whereas Tiankeng translates as “Heavenly Pit”, an area prominent for the formation of sinkholes in China.
Interesting to note is that the height of this sinkhole is 100 meters taller than The World Trade Center in New York City. The doubly nested structure of the sinkhole is a result of two million geographical changes, as reported by Science Alert.
Joint research in 2018 by scientists from UK and China, mapped a total volume of 6.7 million cubic meters, which is what it is designated as the largest sinkhole in the world. This phenomenal wonder has drawn many visitors from around the world, especially in the rainy season when it produces a waterfall at its mouth. (1, 2, 3)
2. Dragon Hole, South China Sea
The world’s deepest blue hole formed in the South China Sea is a haven for divers and researchers all around the globe.
Recent explorations of legendary blue holes located deep in the South China Sea revealed it as the deepest blue hole in the world. Coming from the chronology of the ocean of stars that has blackholes, this sinkhole took its name from the ocean of water that reflects a blue color.
Famous among local fishermen is the “Eye” of the South China Sea, it is the place depicted in the novel Journey to West, which found its golden cudgel. The geographical location of the dragon hole is mapped near Paracel Islands, South China.
Geological challenges have attracted researchers from all over the world to explain underwater wonders like the mineral composition having limestone and carbonate.
What attracts our attention towards Dragon Hole is its formation, resulting from the vigorous chemical reactions of saltwater and freshwater with weak acids that eat away limestone and carbonate thus forming an impressive sinkhole attracting divers and researchers from across the globe. (1, 2)
3. Guatemala City Sinkhole
A prominent sinkhole formed in Guatemala City, Central America, was created when the city was struck by a tropical storm. Even though it was formed due to a natural calamity, human activities are thought to be responsible for the generation of this massive cavity.
Dating back to 30 May 2010, when the city of Guatemala in Central America was struck with a disastrous storm in which an area about 20 meters across and 90 meters deep was swallowed by our planet. However, the subsequent research has revealed that it was not the storm, but human activities that were responsible for the formation of this massive sinkhole.
Some geologists estimated that the cavity was formed in the first place because of poor groundwork since this part of the city was constructed on the soil containing a material called “pumice” deposited by the volcanic eruptions.
Since the material hadn’t hardened to rock yet, it eroded when the storm struck, favoring the conditions for the formation of a sinkhole. An interesting fact about this sinkhole is its increasing appetite.
Yes, the sinkhole continuously expanded causing many repair problems until equilibrium was achieved and the sinking was stopped. This sinkhole is still under construction and one cannot predict the time required to repair this natural and man-made sinkhole. (1, 2)
4. Sinkhole in Backyard
An 18th-century tin shaft in Scorrier near Cornwell suddenly collapsed deep in the ground forming a 300-foot-chamber in the backyard of a bungalow.
Not all sinkholes are natural. Some are the result of human activities. One such result can be seen in Scorrier near Cornwell where on 14th March 2016, an 18th-century tin shaft collapsed forming a sinkhole in a backyard. Cornwell has a prolific mining history and is believed to be littered with excessive mine shafts and mineral works.
Many of the mineral works go unnoticed and unrecorded in the history of mining. These shafts have since rotted and are usually covered with soil and buildings. This is what happened in Scorrier when a tin shaft with a rotten cap collapsed deep down forming an approximately 300-foot-deep massive sinkhole.
Many geographical, historical, and satellite data analyses provide no evidence for the mining activities at this place, which demonstrates that many of the mining activities go unnoticed. Fortunately, the land where the collapse has occurred was unoccupied and lead to no casualties.
The discovery of this shaft is truly considered an accidental discovery during the construction of the bungalow above. However, engineers tried to fix the structural construction around the sinkhole, but the efforts were in vain, because of the flooding history of the soil. This left the site to attract researchers and tourists all around. (1, 2)
5. Gouffre de Padirac, France
This is a gigantic hole in France, formed by an extraordinary natural phenomenon tens of thousands of years ago by a river flowing underneath that gives time-travel thrills.
In 1899, during a voyage deep into the Earth, a French explorer named Edouard Martel discovered this natural wonder now known as “Gouffre de Padirac” in Europe. Since its discovery, it has gathered more than 24 million visitors and continues to amaze those who see it.
People often call this sinkhole a “ Devil’s Hole” that amazes the visitors when they gaze at this enormous chasm, 75- meter-deep and 33-meter-wide sinkhole. Tracing back to its history, the sinkhole was created by millennia of the subterranean ground beneath that was eroded by water forming spectacular caverns of limestone containing minerals such as stalactites and stalagmites.
An exciting fact about this sinkhole is when you are set to explore it, you have to descend first through an artificial lift whose design was inspired by the one built in the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Once you reach deep down you can’t help but take wonder about the small blue hole picturing the sky far away from the bottom.