Sinkholes - which are often defined as a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse to the surface layer – are a natural phenomenon that can be found all around the world. These gigantic holes are often breathtaking due to their rather impressive size as they can often vary from as little as 1 meter wide to over a staggering 600 meters.
Although they may have a rather intriguing appearance, sinkholes have not only caused significant – often unrepairable – damage to many cities but they have also caused loss of thousands of lives as they often occur very suddenly, without any warning at all. And, despite the fact that they can occur at any time, the scariest thing about sinkholes is that they continually grow in size due to the effects of erosion.
However, sinkholes haven’t always been the cause of some of the world’s most gigantic holes as many are usually the result of man-made creations, natural gas explosions, or even mysterious formations that still to this day, leave scientists baffled and confused. Some of these mysterious holes have even attracted many conspiracy theories such as military missile training, to even extra-terrestrial activity
From terrifying city swallowing sinkholes to vibrant natural formations, here are fifteen of the strangest holes that you can find on this earth.
15 Great Blue Hole – Belize
Each and every year thousands of divers’ flock to one of the most spectacular sinkhole's to-date, the Great Blue Hole. Located just 60 miles off the coast of Belize, the giant circular shaped hole measures at over 300 meters wide and over 125 meters deep.
The giant sinkhole is currently believed to have originally formed as a limestone cave during the last glacial period when sea levels were significantly lower. However, as the sea levels started to rise, the cave began to collapse, creating a giant vertical cave in the ocean.
Often characterized by its famous blue colors and rich coral environments that surround the giant hole, it’s no wonder that this particular location often appears on many diver’s bucket lists. For those lucky enough to dive the Great Blue Hole, don’t be surprised if you see the ever so famous Caribbean Reef Sharks as they circle the depths of the underwater hole.
Whether you enjoy diving or simply wish to admire its beauty, the Great Blue Hole should definitely be added to your list of must visit locations.
14 The Glory Hole – Monticello Dam, California
It should come as no surprise that The Glory Hole makes an appearance on this list, as it is arguably one of the world’s most famous holes. Despite having not been used in recent years, The Glory Hole was constructed between 1953 and 1957 in order to maintain a safe capacity level.
Thankfully though, after some rather intense and much needed rainfall in February 2017, a number of lucky viewers were able to capture water entering the famous spillway for the first time since 2006.
However, despite how inviting it may look, swimming near The Glory Hole is strictly prohibited as its surrounding waters are notoriously known for their extremely strong currents. So much so, that in 1997 the famous hole claimed the life of a woman who was caught in the current while swimming near the area. After clinging to the edge of the spillway for 20 minutes, the woman was tragically swept down the pipe.
13 Morning Glory Pool – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Named after the flower representing the rich colors of the pool, The Morning Glory is arguably one of the world’s most famous hot springs. However, the Morning Glory Pool isn’t exactly what it used to be, as over the years the famous hot spring has started to go by another name, “Faded Glory”.
This change in name is due to the significant amount of vandalism and debris that has slowly built up and altered the color of the pool. It is these pieces of rubbish and debris – such as coins, rocks, and all kinds of absurd objects – that have clogged up core heating sources under the water’s surface, causing the pools temperature to drop.
Researchers believe that due to the lowered temperature of the pool, photosynthetic microorganisms – which previously couldn’t have survived – began to thrive in the new temperature, causing the pool to take on the distinctive green, yellow, and orange colorization.
12 The Darvaza Gas Crater – Derweze, Turkmenistan
Often referred to as the Door to Hell or Gates to Hell, the Darvaza Gas Crater is a giant natural gas field that has left scientists baffled and confused as the crater has been left burning for more than four decades.
Located in the middle of the Karakum Desert - near the small village of Derweze - it is believed that the flaming crater was a result of a drilling mishap caused by a team of Soviet geologists when the ground under a drilling rig gave way - causing the sinkhole to form.
With an opening of 69 meters wide and 30 meters deep, it is no wonder that the team began to worry that the giant crater would begin releasing poisonous gases into the air. As a result, the team decided to light the crater on fire in hopes that all of the fuel would be burnt over the course of a few days.
However, that clearly was not the case as some 40 years later, the Darvaza Gas Crater continues to burn and sees thousands of tourists flock to the area each and every year to catch a glimpse of the unbelievable site.
11 Mysterious Siberian Craters – Siberia
After first appearing in 2013, these rather unexplainable holes have been the subject of many different explanations, these range from natural gases, stray missiles, pranks, and even extra-terrestrial activity. Not only are the holes mysterious, but they have also grown quite significantly over the years, with the largest of the holes now measuring at an unbelievable 230 feet wide, with a depth of almost 330 feet – that’s approximately 217 feet larger than when it was first measured.
However, in 2017 the mysterious holes stepped back into the spotlight when a series of unexplainable explosions occurred, this left scientists claiming to have finally been able to determine a reasonable explanation for the mysterious craters – methane gas. That’s right, scientists believe that should the temperature be low enough and high pressure be present, methane and water can freeze together to create methane hydrate.
When permafrost melts, so does the hydrate. This results in methane gas building up pressure, until it finally reaches breaking point and explodes.
10 Dean’s Blue Hole – Long Island, Bahamas
While Dean’s Blue Hole may not appear that impressive from the surface, it is what lies below that makes this particular sinkhole so spectacular and popular amongst many divers – especially those that enjoy freediving.
Despite its rather small entrance of just 25-35 metres wide, it is after descending 20 meters from the surface that the true magic of Dean’s Blue Hole begins to shine, as the hole actually widens into a massive cavern that has a diameter of over 100 meters wide.
That’s not the only impresive thing that makes Dean’s Blue Hole so special though, as it also plunges to a depth of 202 meters – making it the second deepest underwater sinkhole to-date.
9 Guatemala City Sinkhole – Guatemala City, Guatemala
The infamous Guatemala City sinkhole is quite possibly one of the scariest sinkholes to have ever formed, simply due to its sheer size and rather disturbing location. That’s right, straight in the middle of a major city. Measuring at over 18 meters wide and approximately 100 meters deep, the Guatemala City sinkhole is currently believed to have been primarily triggered by an excess of water from the tropical storm, Agatha.
Despite being a gaping hole in the middle of a major city, what makes this sinkhole so interesting is the fact that many geologists believe that the sinkhole was not formed by mother nature, but rather the result of human activity.
One geologist – Sam Bonis of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire – believes that a burst sewer pipe or storm drain may have very well been the cause of the disaster as it slowly hollowed out an underground cavity due to improper infrastructure – allowing the chasm to form.
As a result, the 2010 sinkhole swallowed a three-story factory and caused the death of at least 15 people.
8 The Heavenly Pit – Xiaozhai, China
Located in the Fengijie County of Chongqing Municipality, Xiaozhai Tiankeng – or otherwise known as the Heavenly Pit - is the world’s largest sinkhole.
Having only been discovered in 1994 by a group of British explorers, the gigantic double nested sinkhole measures at an outstanding 626 metres long, 537 metres wide, and up to 662 metres deep. Thought to have formed over the course of 128,000 years, the Heavenly Pit sits above the Difeng cave which is home to a spectacular 8.5-kilometre underground river that flows along the bottom of the sinkhole.
Complete with breathtaking waterfalls and vibrant, undisturbed environments, the Heavenly Pit isn’t just known for its sheer size as it is also a frequent location for thrill-seekers looking to partake in extreme sports. Thanks to its incredible depth, the Heavenly Pit has become quite the popular location for base-jumpers.
7 Bingham Canyon Copper Mine – Salt Lake City, Utah
Located in the Oquirrh Mountains of Utah, the Bingham Canyon Mine – or nicknamed The Richest Hole On Earth – is the world’s deepest man-made open pit excavation to have ever been created. Having started production in 1906, the Bingham Canyon Mine has since grown to an unbelievable 2.75 miles wide and a breathtaking 0.75 miles deep, making it not only the world’s deepest mine, but also the largest copper mine in the USA.
With a daily extraction of 450,000 tons of rock, it has been estimated that the Bingham Canyon Mine produces a yearly earning of up to $1.8 billion dollars.
However, things took a turn for the worse in April 2013, when the mine fell victim to the largest non-volcanic landslide in North American history when it was believed that approximately 65-70 million cubic meters of dirt and rubble had fallen down the side of the pit. Although there were no injuries, it was estimated that the landslide would affect the mines copper production by at least 100,000 tonnes.
6 The Black Hole of Andros – South Andros Island, The Bahamas
Hidden just 100 kilometres away from the bustling city of Nassau, South Andros is one of the world’s strangest holes as not only is it often characterized by its oddly colored black water but it also has three very unique and distinct layers of water.
Despite having found over 30 different Black Holes across the Bahamas, it is the Black Hole of South Andros that has really peaked people’s interest as not only is the hole the largest one found – measuring more than 270 meters in diameter and over 47 meters in depth – but it has also been significantly researched and documented by a team of scientist since 1999.
In what was initially thought to be meteorite craters, the black holes of South Andros is believed to have been caused by chemical erosion. However, after conducting further research divers uncovered a rather strange dark purple layer of toxic bacteria that contained high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide.
This one meter thick layer is often described as jelly like and ultimately separates the oxygenated surface water from the oxygen-free water that lays below it.
5 The Devil’s Sinkhole – Edward County, Texas
Located in Edward County, Texas, The Devil’s Sinkhole is one of the more mysterious sinkholes ever found as some rather unique items have been found at its depths. Believed to have been caused when an underground solution cavity collapsed, The Devil’s Sinkhole is said to measure at least 50 feet wide and 350 feet deep – making it one of the largest caves in Texas.
Over the years though, several different items have been found such as stalactites and dart tips that have been dated back to the time period of 2500 BC. It is these particular artifacts has led many to believe that at some point, The Devil’s Sinkhole may have very well been used as a sacred place by the native people.
Just when you thought the mysterious sinkhole couldn’t get any more creepier, it is also home to over five million Mexican free-tailed bats during the summer. It is during these months that this particular location becomes quite the tourist destination as the bats can often be seen exiting the sinkhole during the evening in what many consider a rather spectacular site.
4 Mt Baldy Sinkhole – Michigan City, Indiana
When it comes to freak events, the Mt Baldy Sinkhole - located in Michigan City, Indiana – has one heck of a story to tell, as the popular park that often sees over two million visitors each and every year, is now a constant reminder of a nearly tragic event.
The incident first began when a young six-year-old boy – Nathan Woessner - was walking across the dune when he mysteriously vanished after a large hole appeared and swallowed him whole. After a traumatic three-hours of searching - which involved over 50 rescuers and a pair of construction-site excavators - Woessner was finally found a staggering 11 feet below the surface.
However, after years of research, scientists finally discovered that these rather random and unexplainable sinkholes were the result of trees that had been covered by the moving sand dune. It was found that once the tree was completely submerged, it would begin to break down and decompose - causing hollow pockets to form beneath the surface.
Luckily though, after spending two weeks in the hospital recovering, Woessner survived the freak accident injury, and will carry with him a harrowing, yet incredible story for the rest of his life.
3 Dragon Hole – South China Sea
Discovered in 2015, just 25 kilometers south of the Discovery Reef in Paracel Islands is what is now known as the world’s largest underwater sinkhole. The Dragon Hole - or otherwise known as Xisha in Chinese - is said to have a depth of more than 300 meters deep, which is an astonishing 100 meters more than the previous title holder, Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas.
Despite having only recently been found, the Dragon Hole is said to have been mentioned within the 16th century Ming Dynasty novel “Journey to the West”, which the classical novel states is where the Monkey King acquired his famous golden cudgel.
Although only a short amount of research has been conducted, scientists have currently found over 20 different species of fish inside the blue hole and strongly believe that larger and much deeper sinkholes will eventually be uncovered as technology continues to advance.
2 Sarisarinama Sinkholes - Jaua-Sarisariñama National Park,Venezuela
Hidden within the isolated rainforest of Jaua-Sarisarinama National Park, Venezuela are four incredibly stunning sinkholes that sit on top of the Cerro Sarisarinama mountain - with some just 700 metres apart.
First discovered in 1961 by pilot Harry Gibson, the four sinkholes are often characterised by their near perfectly round appearance, with the largest of the four – Sima Humboldt – measuring up to 352 metres wide and an incredible 314 metres deep.
Much like many other sinkholes around the world, the Saraiarinama sinkholes have also created their own collection of flora and fauna – including a new species of frogs that are currently unknown to science - that are exclusive to only these sinkholes.
For those brave enough to complete the lengthy 4 to 5 day trek to the sinkholes, you should be warned that it also holds some pretty terrifying indigenous legends as it is believed that an evil sprite lives in Sarisarinama and eats the flesh of humans. If that wasn’t already scary enough, it is said that the “sari sari” within the name represents the sound that the evil sprite makes while consuming its victim.
1 The Mysterious Cover-Up Of The Giant North Pole Hole
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, conspiracy theorists believe that after a series of satellite images were posted by NASA, and quickly deleted, that the government is trying to cover something up – that something being a giant gaping hole that leads to another world.
That’s right, theorists believe that these bizarre images support their theories that the earth is completely hollow and that there is another world hidden inside.
So, your probably wondering, what makes this theory seem reputable enough to make this list? Well it comes down to the simple fact that nearly every satellite image that we have of the North Pole shows either a massive hole or is blacked out – whether this is simply a coincidence or something much more ominous, we may never truly know.
Sources: Mirror, Texas Beyond History, Earth Sky, National Geographic, Atlas Obscura
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