Sinkholes are known by several names; swallow hole, doline, swallet, sink, shake hole and snake hole. No matter what you choose to call them, sinkholes are a growing phenomenon that can be absolutely devastating to the region in which they occur. Sinkholes can appear with signs or just appear without warning. You can go to bed one night when everything is right with the world, and wake up to a giant hole where your lawn, car or neighbor’s house used to be. Sinkholes have been discovered all around the world.
They vary in diameter as well as depth, and often happen when water drainage gathers in one spot. They can occur in high and dry locations. Sinkholes are more common in areas where sandstone and quartzite terrain are present.
Most sink holes have been discovered in the state of Florida, which I am sure is no surprise, considering anytime we hear of a massive sinkhole in the news, it’s usually in Florida. People have used sinkholes to dispose of waste, which usually leads to the pollution of waterways. In ancient times the Mayans used sinkholes as places to store treasures or to make human sacrifices. Let’s take a look at 12 of the most devastating sinkholes.
12 Bimmah Sinkhole
The Bimmah Sinkhole is often referred to as the most beautiful sinkhole in the world. Residents turned a devastating occurrence into a huge tourist attraction.
The sinkhole is located in northern Oman and residents there have turned it into a park that allows swimming. The water in the sinkhole pool is an odd vibrant turquoise. The pool is estimated to be 550 meters from the sea. The sinkhole itself is 40 meters wide and 20 meters deep. It even has tiny fish that call it home. The fish are famous for nibbling playfully at the feet of anyone who swims in the sinkhole.
11 Sima Humboldt
The Sima Humboldt is a very large sinkhole that is located in Bolivar State, Venezuela. This sinkhole is in the middle of a forest, with the closest road being miles away.
It is an estimated 314 meters deep and has vertical walls. What makes it unusual besides its large size is its exact location.The Sima Humboldt is located on top of the regions only forested tepid. It also has a forest on its base that was created by the weathering process that developed after the sinkhole formed. In 1974, the Sima Humboldt descended and 1976 is when it was explored more thoroughly.
10 Macungie Sinkhole
The Macungie sinkhole was formed in June of 1986 in Pennsylvania. The sinkhole has been attributed to the area's aging water infrastructure, which likely caused a water main break, which ultimately caused the sinkhole. Hours before the sinkhole occurred, people in the area reported hearing loud noises. Shortly after the noises started and shortly before the sinkhole appeared, residents began to complain that they had no water.
The sinkhole created chaos with the area's traffic and created major issues with utilities. It caused major disruption of traffic and utility services causing around $450,000 in stabilization and repair costs. The Macungie Sinkhole is estimated to be 75 feet wide and 35 feet deep.
9 Winnipeg Highway Sinkhole
The Winnipeg Highway sinkhole in Canada made a large section of a Manitoba highway disappear. The region at the time had received 12 inches of heavy rainfall. The sinkhole caused 200 meters of highway 83 to be washed away. When the sinkhole was complete, some of the roadway sat 8 meters below its original resting spot.
The area where the sinkhole occurred had other issues previously with erosion. When the sinkhole started, the roadway was sinking at a rate of 13 centimeters an hour. Officials in the region kept a close eye on the sinkhole. The sinkhole continued to spread for days before stopping completely.
8 Daisetta Sinkhole
The Daisetta sinkhole in Texas started off as a small sinkhole measuring around 20 feet. Once it was finished, it measured more than 900 feet wide with an estimated depth of 260 feet.
The town where the sinkhole occurred is an old oil town that sits on the Hull Salt Dome, which is a geological formation of salt that is four-miles in diameter. Experts speculated that the sinkhole was caused by the years of storing the region's saltwater waste. The saltwater waste was a byproduct from oil production.
Part of the FM 770 highway surface dropped by an estimated 5 inches near the sinkhole site, which was 80 feet away from the busy roadway.
7 Red Lake
Red Lake sinkhole occurred in Croatia. Experts believe that the sinkhole, which is now a beautiful lake, was created when a ceiling in a cave hall collapsed. The sinkhole got its name from the reddish-brown cliffs that surround it.
Fish live in Red Lake and those fish can also be seen living in the rivers, springs and lakes surrounding it which leads many to believe there is an underground connection between the lake and the other water bodies. The approximate size of the sinkhole is 530 meters and 30 million cubic meters in volume. Today the sinkhole is a treasured part of the region.
6 Xiaozhai Tiankeng
The Xiaozhai Tiankeng sinkhole, or the Heavenly Pit as some refer to it, has vertical walls that are 625 meters deep. It is considered the world’s largest sinkhole and measures 527 meters wide and an estimated 662 meters deep. The sinkhole is believed to have been created sometime over the past 128,000 years.
It was discovered in 1994 by researchers who were searching for new caves for British cavers. More than 2,800 steps have been created so that the sinkhole can be used as a tourist attraction. Tourists like to visit the sinkhole during the rainy season because a waterfall is created at the mouth of the sinkhole.
5 Dean’s Blue Hole
The Dean’s Blue Hole sinkhole is located on Long Island in the Bahamas. It is the deepest sinkhole under the sea and is estimated to be a depth of 663 feet. After diving an estimated 66 feet, the sinkhole significantly widens. The maximum depths of other Blue Holes are only 360 feet. The sinkhole is circular at its opening. It is believed to have been created by fissures in limestone bedrock.
It is a popular spot for diving. World championship free diving competitions have been held there. William Trubridge broke the free diving record at Dean’s Blue Hole by diving down 302 feet.
4 Harwood Hole
The Hardwood Hole sinkhole can be found at New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Park. The sinkhole is part of a cave system in Takaka Hill. It is located between the Tasman Bay and the Golden Bay. The top of the sinkhole descends 183 meters. Its descent is considered one of the most popular and spectacular caving experiences in the region.
That must be such an amazing experience to go caving in what used to be an old sinkhole.
The sinkhole is named after Henry Harwood, who discovered the sinkhole in the 1920s. It wasn’t until 1958 when it was actually explored.
The Sarisariñama sinkhole is often called the most mysterious and beautiful sinkhole in Venezuela. The sinkhole contains its own totally unique ecosystem. The Sarisariñama ecosystem cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Despite being studied by some of the world’s greatest scientists, no one has been able to discover the sinkhole's origin.
There are a total of four sinkholes on the Sarisariñama Mountains. The largest of the sinkholes is estimated to be 1150 feet wide and 1000 feet deep.
The area where the sinkholes are located have some history to them. Ancient and local natives believe a flesh eating spirit resided on the mountain, and that the spirit said something that sounded like "Sari Sari" as he fed upon human flesh..
2 Great Blue Hole
The Great Blue Hole sinkhole, which is located off of the coast of Belize, is part of the Belize reserve System. UNESCO declared the area a World Heritage site. The sinkhole is submarine shaped and estimated to be 124 meters deep.
The sinkhole has stilted stalactites and it rests in the center of the Lighthouse Reef. The sinkhole is 300 meters in width and was formed during episodes of Quatemary glaciations when the areas sea levels were much lower. The Great Blue Hole sinkhole was made famous by the exploration of Jacques Cousteau, who called the sinkhole one of the top ten scuba diving destinations in the world.
1 Agrico Gypsum Stack
One of the world’s largest and most devastating sinkholes occurred back in 1994 in Florida. The Agrico Gypsum Stack is a 15- story sinkhole that opened up beneath the 80-million-ton-pile of gypsum stack. Phosphogypsum is a byproduct that is created when fertilizer is made.
The sinkhole caused an estimated 4 to 6 million cubic feet of radioactive and extremely toxic gypsum, as well as waste water into Florida’s aquifer. The aquifer provided close to 90% of Florida’s drinking water.
The Agrico Gypsum Stack created an environmental catastrophe. Those who flew over the sinkhole said that it looked like earth’s first moon crater.