By now you’ve probably heard about the sinkhole that formed yesterday in Ottawa – and thankfully no one was hurt! While extremely terrifying and sometimes devastating, sinkholes are mysterious natural wonders of the world.
A cavity in the ground, especially in limestone bedrock, caused by water erosion and providing a route for surface water to disappear underground.
Take a look at 5 wild sinkholes on our planet below.
GUATEMALA CITY SINKHOLE, GUATEMALA
There have been a couple of terrifying sinkhole incidences in Guatemala’s capital: one in 2007 and again in 2010. The first occurrence happened after residents of the Central American city had been feeling rumblings for weeks and thought it was an earthquake. Rather, due to the corroded sewage system underneath the streets, a nearly perfect circle sinkhole dropped 30 stories, killing two people and evacuating over a thousand. In 2010, a combination of Tropical Storm Agatha, the Pacaya Volcano eruption, and leakage from sewer pipes, caused a 90m deep collapse, swallowing a three story factory.
THE DEVIL’S SINKHOLE, USA
This limestone wonder found in Edward’s County in Texas dives down 400 feet. It is said to have been a sacred place to Native Americans. It is also home to the Mexican Free Tailed Bat… over three million Mexican Free Tailed Bats.
SARISARIÑAMA SINKHOLES, VENEZUELA
These beautiful and mysterious sinkholes are each over 350m deep and 350m wide. There are four of them, each almost perfectly round with two of them having forest ecosystems covering the bottom.
THE QATTARA DEPRESSION, EGYPT
The Qattara Depression is known as the largest natural sinkhole on earth measuring 80km long, 120km wide, and 133m deep. The vast, sludge-filled giant was created by winds blowing the salt beds right down to the water table. It has been used in battle and now scientists are trying to harness its vastness for energy purposes.
THE GREAT BLUE HOLE, BELIZE
This underwater sinkhole off the coast of Belize is a diver’s dream. The seahole is part of the larger Barrier Reef Reserve System and is a declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. NASA scientist Glyn Collinson dived the Great Blue Hole and described it like this:
“It was the deepest, deep blue hole imaginable; A chasm that fell away deep into the deep, dark blue. It had been forged out of solid rock as caverns, hundreds of thousands of years ago during the last ice age. For eons, water filtered through the rock and into these great stone cathedrals, breeding multicolored stalactites and stalagmites. Then, one by one they collapsed in on each other, creating a chasm four hundred feet deep. As Earth’s swollen polar ice-caps receded, the warm Caribbean ocean swept in to fill the chasm with boiling white hands, the last rays of sunlight struck the chasm’s floor. Then, as the limestone broke down, it began to rain tiny fragments of rock, which slowly began to fill the great Blue Hole.”