Top 10 Sinkholes

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Sinkholes have been in the news quite a lot lately. They are an awesome reminder of nature’s power to take away what it has given in a split second. These massive chasms in the earth are caused by water eroding the land, whether that is the result of geological conditions or faulty sewerage systems. Either way you don’t want to be around when they happen as they can swallow whole motorways, let alone houses and neighbourhoods.
1 The Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole, Belize
The only underwater sinkhole on our list, this is also the most attractive as it lies in the middle of an incredible reef and some of the world’s best diving. While the Blue Hole didn’t threaten human life in the way that sinkholes on land often do, this gaping cave in the Caribbean Sea is still pretty scary. The azure waters around it give way to dark and foreboding blue as the sinkhole reaches depths of 124 metres. Along with the Belize Barrier Reef this is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2 The Guatemala City Sink Hole, Guatemala City
The Guatemala City Sink Hole, Guatemala City
The Guatemala City sinkhole is the antithesis of the beautiful Great Blue Hole. For a start it reeks of sewage as a man-made sinkhole rather than the natural wonder in Belize. This was also a killer sinkhole, claiming one life, while another 1,000 people had to be rescued from the collapsed rubble. There were warning signs though as residents of Guatemala City reported hearing rumblings for some days before it happened. The sinkhole measures about 20 metres across and 33 metres deep.

3 Xiaozhai Tiankeng Sinkhole, China
Xiaozhai Tiankeng Sinkhole, China
At the time of writing Xiaozhai Tiankeng is the largest known sinkhole in the world. It measures a staggering 662 metres deep and has vertical walls making it one of the world’s scariest natural wonders. Yet the Chinese evidently saw it as something altogether more benign, as Xiaozhai Tiankeng means Sky Hole or Heavenly Pit. Like all sinkholes the Xiaozhai Tiankeng was formed by Karst processes in carbonate rock, which is another way of describing erosion caused by water.

4 The Berezniki Sinkhole, Russia
The Berezniki Sinkhole, Russia
The Berezniki Sinkhole in Russia is an absolute monster at over 200 metres deep and it continues to get larger with the passing of time. Although no one was hurt by the sinkhole when it happened in 2007, it has some industrial implications. The Berezniki sinkhole threatens access to one of the world’s largest mines of Potash, a type of salt which is used to manufacture products including fertilizer, soap and glass. If the sinkhole continues expanding  it could destroy the only railway line to this mine.

5 Giant Sótanos, Mexico
Giant Sótanos, Mexico
Giant Sótanos is located in the state of Querétaro in Mexico. Famed for having the deepest freefall drop, Giant Sótanos is also a haven for wildlife. The sinkhole is actually known by Mexicans as Sótano de las Golondrinas, which means the Cave of Swallows. A staggering 512 metres deep, Giant Sótanos actually opens up as you go descend and the base is the size of three football pitches.

6 Devil's Sinkhole, Texas
Devil
Devil’s sinkhole may sound sinister and it is – if you don’t like bats! Designated as a nature park this underground cavern is home to a number of these winged nocturnal animals and you can get exciting tours of the sinkhole at dusk. There are also a number of freshwater lakes which support various organisms. More than 100 metres into the sinkhole is a huge cavern which was first discovered by settlers in 1867. Devil's Sink Hole is also suitable for the disabled with wheelchair access to a viewing point.

7 El Zacatón Sinkhole, Mexico
El Zacatón Sinkhole, Mexico
El Zacatón in Tamaulipas is the world’s deepest water-filled sinkhole. Indeed up until recently many people thought it was a bottomless pit. In fact it measures 335 metres and it is a sight to behold with beautiful water surrounded by forest. The water may look clear from above but in fact it is sulphurous and warm at about 30 degrees Celsius. El Zacatón is the name given to the little islands of grass which blow across the sinkhole. It is thought that El Zacatón was formed thousands of years ago as a result of volcanic activity.

8 Lake Jackson Sinkhole, Florida
Lake Jackson Sinkhole, Florida
Florida is the US sinkhole capital with the porous limestone rock there often prone to collapse. The most amazing event happened in 1999 when Lake Jackson just disappeared into a sinkhole. Not only did all the water drain underground but all the wildlife too, crocodiles and all. This strange occurrence happens every 25 years, and although much of the water escaped again in 2007, some pools remained.

9 Minye Sinkhole, Papua New Guinea
Minye Sinkhole, Papua New Guinea
High in the Nakanaï Mountains of Papua New Guinea is the Minye sinkhole which measures 510 metres deep. As one of the wettest places in the world with more than six thousand millimetres of rainfall every year, it is hardly surprising that a huge sinkhole developed here. Located in the depths of the rainforest, very few people have seen Minye sinkhole.

10 Sarisarinama Sinkholes, Venezuela
Sarisarinama Sinkholes, Venezuela
The Sarisarinama sinkholes of Venezuela are emblematic of the land that time forgot. Indeed these perfectly round holes in the jungle are a massive draw for naturalists. It is thought that unique species developed in these sinkholes as they evolved to cope with a different way of life to their above ground counterparts.  

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