Sinkholes are basically huge depressions, or cavities that have opened up in the ground. More often than not, a surface layer collapses in upon itself after the rock or stone underneath has been eroded away. Sinkholes can happen over an extended period of time … or they can occur suddenly — anywhere in the world. While they can look frightening, some of them can appear pretty spectacular. As you will see with these 18 strange and spectacular sinkholes
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#8 Red Lake Sinkhole – Croatia
At more than 1700 feet deep, Red Lake in Croatia is considered to be the world’s third largest sinkhole, and contains a karst lake within it. In addition to its great depth, the area is recognized for its dizzyingly high cliffs and for its numerous caves. The surrounding cliffs have a reddish brown coloration due to the presence of iron oxides … and that’s why the sinkhole is called ‘The Red Lake’.
#7 Quattara Depression
Some have argued that this is the world’s largest natural sinkhole. Located in Egypt, the Quattara Depression was created naturally over the ages by an interaction of wind erosion and the weathering effects of salt. At 436 feet below sea level, it’s the second lowest point found in Africa. And with an expanse of nearly 7,600 square miles, it’s twice the size of the country of Lebanon!
#6 Dean’s Blue Hole – Bahamas
We previously mentioned that Dragon Hole is now thought to be the world’s deepest known underwater sinkhole. But Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas doesn’t have to feel bad about being the runner up. At some 663 feet, it’s still very impressive. And with a diameter up to 115 feet, it manages to maintain a roughly circular shape at its surface. But that width expands the deeper you go … eventually opening up to a diameter of some 330 feet!
#5 Minye SInkhole – Papua New Guinea
Here’s a sinkhole with some truly eye-opening dimensions. Found in Papua, New Guinea, is descends almost 1,700 feet. The local terrain of New Britain features volcanoes, mountains and tropical rainforest … yet that landscape seems to suddenly disappear into this huge depression in the Earth. And little wonder, since it could hold up to one-and-a-half Eiffel Towers at its deepest point. By the way, if that doesn’t impress you, how about this stat: The Minye Sinkhole is around 1,148 feet wide … meaning that you could line five Boeing 747 jumbo jets end to end across it. How about that? Experts think that the sinkhole was formed as rainfall and underground rivers eroded the limestone rock and the surface layer collapsed. A raging river still flows at the bottom, through a cave system that runs more than 3 miles and contains one of the world’s largest caverns.
#4 Pozzo del Merro
Located in Italy, experts say this sinkhole was created by subterranean volcanic activity that eroded the rock above it. At a depth of nearly 1,300 feet, it’s the world’s second deepest underwater vertical cave. It’s been the subject of several exploration missions using ROVs, (or remotely operated vehicles). One of the vehicles touched the bottom and discovered a narrow passage there that continued on horizontally … where do you think it might lead to?
#3 Great Blue Hole – Belize
You can’t have this sort of list without this well-known submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize. The spectacular hole is circular, with a width of 1,043 a feet across and goes more than 400 feet deep. Maybe not the biggest hole on our list, but certainly one of the most spectacular, and among the best known in the world. Experts think it was formed more than 150,000 years ago when sea levels were much lower.
#2 Cave of Swallows – Mexico
From its highest side, this limestone sinkhole in Mexico has a drop of some 1,214 feet from its highest point … which makes it very popular with BASE jumpers, who enjoy leaping off the rim and into the void deep below. Other tourists also enjoy the drop … although they enjoy watching a variety of birds flying and free falling to their nests in the cavern. Parakeets, white collared swifts, and green parrots are some of the birds that are found here. While it’s the second deepest pit in Mexico, the Cave of Swallows ranks as the world’s largest known cave shaft.