• From terrifying home-swallowing sinkholes
to picturesque natural caverns, we count fifteen awe-inspiring planetary cavities!
15 – Great Blue Hole, • An underwater sinkhole located 60 miles
off the coast of Belize. The hole is 300 metres across and 125 metres deep, and is found in
the centre of the Lighthouse Reef. • The Great Blue Hole formed as a limestone
cave during the last ice age. It’s believed to have been created by a sea level increase.
• It has unusual stilted stalactites and is part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve
System, which has been declared as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization. • Its circular shape makes it popular among
tourists. Scuba divers frequent this reef because of the rare animal species that reside
there. 14 – Udachnaya Pipe,
• The Udachnaya Pipe is a diamond mine in Russia. It was discovered on June 15, 1955,
just two days after the discovery of the diamond pipe Mir.
• It is over 600 metres deep and is considered the third deepest open-pit mine in the world.
• The mine had estimated reserves of 225.8 million carats of diamonds and an annual production
capacity of 10.4 million carats. • The mine was controlled by Russian diamond
company Alrosa until its operations were ceased in 2010 in favour of underground mining.
13 – German Superdeep Hole, • Germany’s famous superdeep hole was
the result of the German Continental Deep Drilling Program, one of the most ambitious
geoscientific projects ever. • The project’s goal was to grant scientists
the opportunity to study the earth’s crust, the effects of stress on layers of rock and
observe any abnormalities along the way. • The $350 million project, which concluded
in 1994, left Windischeschenbach, Germany with a hole 9,100 metres (30,000 ft) deep
and as hot as 265 degrees Celsius (509 °F). • The project was also notable for Dutch
artist Lotte Geeven’s involvement. Geeven wanted to know what the planet sounded like,
so arranged to have a geophone lowered into the hole to record ultrasonic waves. She translated
the data through a computer program to discover the sounds of the earth, which she likened
to a distant thunderstorm. The sound eerily resembles a heartbeat.
12 – The Deluxe Mystery Hole, • The Deluxe Mystery Hole is a backyard
attraction off Oregon’s I-205 freeway. According to the owner and promoter, it’s the most
amazing archaeological site in the state. • The Mystery Hole’s depth has never been
accurately determined by modern scientific methods, but the consensus is it is very deep.
Some speculate it was dug by primitive people; others think it is a mark of extraterrestrial
visitors. • The hole’s owner – Pastor Barron,
leader of the Tunnel People and head of the Universal Church O’ Fun – alleges that
the hole is 5,000 years old, but says that with aliens you can never really be sure.
• Going into the Mystery Hole will expose you to the Enchanting Vapours of Encouragement™,
which is said to cure any illness and bring great financial and romantic fortune. However,
a disclaimer informs hopefuls that these vapours won’t actually do anything.
11 – The Devil’s Sinkhole, • Edwards County, Texas is the home of The
Devil’s Sinkhole, a massive underground limestone chamber with an opening 15 metres
wide and a cavern 106 metres deep. • Visitors are not allowed in this cavern,
but, during the summer months, more than three million Mexican free-tail bats can be seen
flying from the Sinkhole’s entrance every night.
• The sinkhole has mysterious origins. Before it was a protected site, this cave was raided
by treasure-seekers and artefact-hunters. Dart tips and arrowheads have been found there
dating back as early as 4000 B.C. 10 – Guatemala Sinkholes,
• In 2007, a 300-foot-deep sinkhole swallowed a dozen homes in Guatemala, killing two and
causing thousands of residents to evacuate. The sinkhole was caused by heavy rain and
a corroded underground sewage system. • What residents thought was an earthquake
was actually the formation of a massive sinkhole. The hole is an almost perfect circle and has
a drop equivalent to 30 stories. • Three years later, another hole, 200 feet
deep and 60 feet wide, consumed a three-story building in the city. The hole had been developing
gradually, but the torrential rain and mudslides during Tropical Storm Agatha sped up the process.
9 – Dead Sea Holes, • The Israeli town of Ein Gedi has over
3,000 open sinkholes along its coast. Experts believe there are twice as many more that
have yet to open up. • The Dead Sea is drying up at a rate of
1 metre per year, causing sinkholes. • The sinkholes occurred because of the
chronic water shortage in the area, an issue compounded in recent years by a large and
growing population. The sinkholes attract many tourists, which leads to further water
shortage and even more sinkholes. The situation is further exacerbated by the presence of
several chemical factories in the area. 8 – Mirny Diamond Mine,
• The Mirny Diamond Mine was the first developed and largest diamond mine in the Soviet Union.
It’s 525 metres deep and has a top diameter of 1,200 metres.
• The airspace above the mine was relegated a no-fly zone after incidents where helicopters
were sucked in by a downward air flow. • The diamond-bearing deposits were discovered
on June 13, 1955 by Soviet geologists during the largest Amakinsky Expedition. During this
expedition, traces of the volcanic rock Kimberlite were found.
• The mine’s surface operation lasted 44 years before closing in June 2001.
7 – Siberian Holes, • Three holes were recently discovered in
Siberia. The first, estimated to be 50–100 metres across, has been found to have a lake
at the bottom of it; the second hole, miles from the first on a peninsula lovingly referred
to as ‘The End of the World’, is only about 15 metres wide; and the third hole,
which was accidentally discovered by reindeer herders, is a near-perfect cone-shaped hole
about 4 metres wide and 60–100 metres deep. • The ring of dirt and debris around each
hole indicates these massive holes were created by a force that stemmed from inside the Earth
and exploded outward. Theories for the cause of these explosions include stray missiles,
gas-related mishaps, pranks and, of course, extra terrestrial interference.
• One major working theory suggests the holes are a kind of reverse sinkhole that
has yet to be scientifically documented. Instead of collapsing in on themselves, it’s thought
the holes were initiated by underground fissures that caused the melting of permafrost. The
holes then filled with natural gas and, when the pressure became too great, dirt and debris
erupted outwards. 6 – Harwood Hole,
• Harwood Hole, located in New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Park, is one of several
important cave systems in Takaka Hill, between the Tasman and Golden Bays.
• A 50-metre-round sinkhole entrance, it descends 183 metres vertically and has an
overall depth of 357 metres. • Abel Tasman is a very popular national
park in New Zealand, and a world-renowned sea kayaking destination.
5 – Monticello Dam, • Located in northern California, the Monticello
Dam is the largest ‘morning glory spillway’ in the world. Dam water is swallowed at a
rate of 1,370 cubic metres per second and, thanks to the dam’s funnel-shaped outlet,
is allowed to bypass the dam when it reaches capacity.
• The distance from the funnel to the exit point is about 700 feet, creating a spillway
like a giant cement funnel. The hole’s largest diameter is 72 feet and narrows to about 28
feet. For obvious reasons, swimming near it is both prohibited and stupid.
• The reservoir is a popular summer recreation area, attracting as many as 1.3 million visitors
each year. During the drier months, gnarly skateboarders and bikers use the spillway’s
horizontal exit as a half-pipe. 4 – Dean’s Blue Hole,
• Blue holes are underwater holes, and the world’s largest discovered blue hole is
Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas. At a depth of 202 metres, Dean’s Blue Hole is more
than twice as deep as most other blue holes, making it a favourite among professional deep-sea
divers. • The area is a tourist hotspot, and is
home to a varied assortment of marine life. It’s also host to several championship diving
events, including Vertical Blue, where more than 30 divers compete in a series of free-diving
challenges. • Long Island locals generally steer clear
of Dean’s Blue Hole. According to legend, the hole was dug by the devil, and he still
can be found there, dragging people who dare to swim in the hole to their deaths.
3 – Bingham Canyon Mine, • The Bingham Canyon Mine is a copper mine
in the Oquirrh mountains, Utah. The mine is 1.2 vertical kilometres deep and 4 kilometres
wide. • Owned by Rio Tinto Group, it is the world’s
largest manmade excavation. Claims have been made that it is the only manmade feature visible
to the naked eye from an orbiting space shuttle. • Bingham Canyon Mine is considered the
richest and most productive hole on Earth. Operations have been conducted there for over
a century, and the environmental fallout has been considerable.
2 – The Sawmill Sink, • Another blue hole in the Bahamas, the
Sawmill Sink has more scientific significance than extreme sports attraction Dean’s Blue
Hole. The Sawmill Sink was the site of an archaeological dig that has helped change
scientists’ views on what the landscape was like 1,000 years ago.
• Interestingly, the Sawmill Sink was once dry, but slowly filled as water levels rose.
This preserved the remains of seeds, birds, flowers and even a giant tortoise which was
concealed there. Giant crocodile remains were also found. Researchers believe these were
killed by primordial humans. • The blue hole also held the remains of
one of the earliest known residents of the Bahamas, estimated to be about 1,050 years
old. 1 – The Heavenly Pit,
• The Heavenly Pit sinkhole in China is located in Xiaozhai, (tien khan) Tiankeng
in the (kong sin) Chongqing District. It is a double-nested sinkhole measuring 662 metres
deep, 626 metres long and 537 metres wide. • The sinkhole gradually formed over 128,000
years and it is the deepest in the world. Because of its enormous size, it is frequented
by extreme BASE-jumping adventurers • It is structurally double nested, with
upper and lower bowls 320 and 342 metres respectively. • An 8.5 kilometre underground river flows
beneath the sinkhole. This river and its surrounding cave was mapped and explored during the 1994
China Caves Project. • A picture-perfect waterfall forms during
the rainy season.