Largest and most impressive sinkholes of the world
List of 10 most impressive sinkholes
Sinkholes here have been listed in alphabetic order.
Bahamas, South Andros
Cross section of South Andros Black Hole in south - north direction, compared with Boeing 747-400.
Gatis Pāvils, basing on S.Schwabe, R.A.Herbert, 2005, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Black holes are the only formations known in the world where microorganisms have increased the temperature of water - in Andros Black Hole it reaches 40°C. Approximately 300 m wide and up to 47 m deep round karst formation.
Crveno Jezero sinkhole. User Tieum512, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0
One of the largest and most impressive sinkholes in the world - approximately 530 m deep, with nearly vertical walls. Contains 280 - 290 m deep lake with endemic species of fish.
Bahamas, Long Island
Dean's Blue Hole, Bahamas.
Ton Engwirda, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-3.0 Netherlands
The 202-203 m deep Dean's Blue Hole is the deepest known blue hole in sea. It is used in yearly world championship of freedivers and numerous world records are set here.
Cross section of El Zacaton sinkhole, compared with Boeing 747-400. Gatis Pāvils, compilation of DEPTX mapping (2007) and M.O.Gary and J.M.Sharp Jr., CC-BY-SA-3.0
The second deepest water filled sinkhole in the world. Total depth of sinkhole is 339 m, lake is 319 m deep. On the surface of lake there are floating several round travertine islands. Lake is formed by volcanically heated acidic groundwater.
Belize, Belize District
Great Blue Hole, Belize.
Chris Alnatt, www.ambergriscaye.com, public domain.
124 m deep, perfectly round, submerged, deep blue sinkhole in the middle of atoll. At the depth of 40 metres contains numerous stalactites which provide valuable information about the past of Earth climate.
Papua New Guinea, East New Britain
Cross section of Minyé sinkhole.
Gatis Pāvils, basing on T.Waltham, 2006, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Up to 510 m deep, giant sinkhole in equatorial jungle. Below it is crossed by powerful underground river, opening entrances into enormous, at least 5.4 km long cave with some of the largest cave chambers in the world.
Venezuela, Bolívar state
Sima Humboldt in the middle part of picture and Sima Martel in the far background.
Photo taken in 1992 by Luis Ruiz Berti, public domain.
Some of the oldest and most unique sinkholes in the world. Sima Humboldt is 314 m deep, Sima Martel - 248 m deep, both formed in extremely resistant sandstone over the course of hundreds of millions of years. Bottom of both sinkholes contains patches of unique rainforest with endemic, little explored species.
Mexico, San Luis Potosí
Caver rappelling down into the Sótano de las Golondrinas. User Stubb, Wikimedia Commons, Free Art License
Sinkhole with enormous, 372 m deep entrance hole and characteristic swarms of birds sprialling up the shaft every morning.
Oman, Dhofar Governorate
One of the largest sinkholes in the world with volume of 90 million m³, depth up to 250 m, width 750 - 1000 m. Two perennial streams enter this sinkhole and disappear underground. This giant pit is especially impressive due to high perennial waterfalls falling into it.
China, Chongqing Municipality
Cross section of Xiaozhai tiankeng, compared with Boeing 747-400.
Gatis Pāvils, basing on T.Waltham, 2006, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Largest known sinkhole in the world, up to 662 m deep and 626 m wide pit with vertical walls. On the bottom grows unique forest.
Map of 10 most impressive sinkholes
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The giant sinkholes of Earth belong to the most impressive natural landmarks.
Wondermondo offers unique review of the largest sinkholes of the world - deepest, most capacious and most unusual ones.
Where are located the largest sinkholes of the world?
Most impressive sinkholes of the world are located in China. These pits are grouped in several locations in Chongqing Municipality, Guangxi, Guizhou and also Sichuan provinces. Here they are called tiankengs - "heavenly pits". Nature has been generous and offers here to us one of the most amazing sights on Earth - up to 662 m deep (!!!) holes with vertical walls and patches of unique subtropical forest below. Underground rivers appear at the bottoms of these holes and disappear underground again.
Next largest find of giant sinkholes is Nakanaï Mountains in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. This is highly unusual landscape with extremely high rainfall (might turn out to be the wettest place on Earth if somebody would measure it), wild jungle and, possibly, the most impressive karst landscape on Earth.
Third location to explore giant sinkholes is Mexico. Here are two groups of these amazing landmarks:
- Sótanos in Querétaro and San Luis Potosí states - amazing giant shafts;
- Sistema Zacatón in Tamaulipas. This is true wonder of nature - more than 20 karst features, mostly filled with water and formed by volcanically heated water. Some of these giant sinkholes have sealed themselves with travertine lids and may hide unknown organisms inside!
Other miracles of nature are the ancient sinkholes on Sarisariñama tepui in Venezuela - Sima Humboldt and Sima Martel. These sinkholes have formed in very resistant sandstone - this process maybe took even hundreds of millions of years! Forest on the bottom of these sinkholes has developed in unusual isolation... especially if we take into account that also Sarisariñama tepui is isolated by steep cliffs!
Do we know all giant sinkholes?
Most of the giant sinkholes listed below are rather recent discoveries. Several of these formations have not been investigated yet. This is really amazing - because these are giant holes, often deeper than the height of Eiffel tower, large enough to be well visible on satellite images!
Majlis al Jinn in Oman, ascending towards the Cheryl's Drop. Photo from Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-3.0
There is explanation to this:
- Giant sinkholes are located in regions with active karst processes. Such regions tend to be extremely hard to access physically. Nowadays people often think that Earth has been criscrossed by curious researchers but this is far from the truth - people have avoided regions which are difficult to access;
- Sinkholes often are located in regions with high rainfall and consequently - eternal clouds. Temperature differences in giant sinkholes often create clouds above the sinkholes. Thus they are not visible on satellite images.
So... you want to find unknown giant sinkholes? Wondermondo offers the following destinations to you:
- Khammouan mountains in Laos. Possibly the largest concentration of enormous sinkholes in the world, most are not explored. May hide the largest sinkholes by volume - there are stories about sinkholes up to 230 million m³ large!
- Central part of New Guinea island. It is known that here are located some of the largest sinkholes in the world but few have been visited and even fewer - measured! Mamo Plateau alone contains more than 100 giant collapse dolines - unfortunately most of them without vertical walls. But there are such nearly unexplored sinkholes as the giant Yogoluk sinkhole in the Indonesian part of the island or Himbiraga sinkhole in Papua New Guinea.
- Sangkulirang mountains in East Kalimantan, Indonesia are little explored but they have extremely impressive karst features.
Remarks and disclaimers to the list of deepest known sinkholes
Below is list of the most impressive sinkholes in the world. When referring to it, please remember:
- List includes naturally formed sinkholes known to Wondermondo which are well pronounced (f.e. NOT included gently sloping valleys e.g. mega-dolines) and at least 150 m deep.
- List includes true sinkholes where the bottom is reached by the sunlight (or bottom would be reached by the sunlight if there would be no lake). It does not include narrow, near vertical caves, f.e. shaped by upcoming springs, like the fantastic Pozzo del Merro. It does not include pits inside the caves.
- Shown depth of the sinkhole itself, e.g. difference between the highest rim and lowest point at the bottom of sinkhole. This depth does not include the depth of deeper caves linked to the main body of sinkhole.
- Numbers of volume for most part are very approximate and include the volume of the main body of sinkhole only.
Deepest known sinkholes of the world
Click on headings to sort the table!
|No||Name||Country, region||Max depth (m)||Volume (million m³)|
|1||Xiaozhai tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||662||119.349|
|2||Dashiwei tiankeng||China, Guangxi||613||75|
|3||Crveno Jezero - Red Lake||Croatia, Split-Dalmatia||530||30|
|4||Minyé sinkhole and cave||Papua New Guinea, East New Britain||510||26|
|5||Haolong tiankeng||China, Guangxi||509||110.0|
|6||Kavakuna sinkhole||Papua New Guinea, East New Britain||480||12|
|7||Taipingmiao tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||420||9.9|
|8||Sótano del Barro||Mexico, Querétaro||410||15|
|9||Xiashiyuan tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||373||31.5|
|10||Daluodang tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||372||10.4|
|11||Sótano de las Golondrinas - Cave of the Swallows||Mexico, San Luis Potosí||372||5|
|12||Tongtian tiankeng||China, Guizhou||370||7.2|
|13||Longgang tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||350||9.2|
|14||El Zacatón sinkhole||Mexico, Tamaulipas||339||10|
|15||Lomes Longmot||Indonesia, West Papua||330||?|
|16||Jiaole tiankeng||China, Guangxi||325||67.0|
|17||Dachang tiankeng||China, Guizhou||320||10.0|
|18||Sima Humboldt||Venezuela, Bolívar||314||21|
|19||Chuandong tiankeng||China, Guangxi||312||11.7|
|20||Baidong tiankeng||China, Guangxi||312||5.8|
|21||Naré sinkhole||Papua New Guinea, East New Britain||310||4.7|
|22||Atea doline||Papua New Guinea, Southern Highlands||>300||?|
|23||Kukumbu sinkhole||Papua New Guinea, West New Britain||300||75|
|24||Qingkou tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||295||9.2|
|25||Datuo tiankeng||China, Guangxi||290||32.7|
|26||Modro Jezero - Blue Lake||Croatia, Split-Dalmatia||290||22|
|27||Xiaokeng tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||286||12|
|28||Shenying tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||285||9.7|
|29||Dengjiatuo tiankeng||China, Guangxi||278||26.2|
|30||Qinlong tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||276||31.7|
|31||Ora sinkhole||Papua New Guinea, East New Britain||275||26|
|32||Lago Azul||Brazil, Goiás||>274||>4.3|
|33||Jiameng tiankeng||China, Guangxi||271||1.6|
|34||Leang Pute||Indonesia, South Sulawesi||270||?|
|35||Shiwangdong tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||252||5.1|
|36||Lusé sinkhole||Papua New Guinea, East New Britain||250||61|
|37||Teiq sinkhole and cave||Oman, Dhofar Governorate||250||90|
|38||Xiaoyanwan tiankeng||China, Sichuan||248||36|
|39||Sima Martel||Venezuela, Bolívar||248||?|
|40||Yogoluk sinkhole||Indonesia, West Papua||240||4|
|41||Bandong tiankeng||China, Guizhou||240||2|
|42||Sendirian sinkhole||Malaysia, Sarawak||240||2|
|43||Shenmu tiankeng||China, Guangxi||234||13.2|
|44||Xiaoshui tiankeng||China, Guizhou||230||2.8|
|45||Chadong tiankeng||China, Guangxi||225||13.3|
|46||Bikbik Vuvu sinkhole||Papua New Guinea, East New Britain||225||1.5|
|47||Dacaokou tiankeng||China, Guizhou||220||25|
|48||Ladong tiankeng||China, Guangxi||215||2.8|
|49||Zhongshiyuan tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||214||34.8|
|50||Tawi Atair sinkhole and cave||Oman, Dhofar Governorate||211||0.975|
|51||Dean's Blue Hole||Bahamas, Long Island||203||1.1?|
|52||Hoya de las Guaguas||Mexico, San Luis Potosí||202||16|
|53||Bajiao tiankeng||China, Guizhou||195||4.0|
|54||Niubizi tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||195||3.5|
|55||Harwood Hole||New Zealand, Tasman Region||183||?|
|56||Xiaocaokou tiankeng||China, Guizhou||180||3.3|
|57||Laowuji tiankeng||China, Guangxi||171||8.3|
|58||Diaojing tiankeng||China, Guangxi||170||12.6|
|59||Peruaçu North sinkhole||Brazil, Minas Gerais||170||10|
|60||Chongtianyan tiankeng||China, Chongqing Municipality||168||7|
|61||Shuijia tiankeng||China, Guangxi||167||2.6|
|62||Velika Dolina||Slovenia, Obalno-kraška||165||3.5|
|63||Huangjing tiankeng||China, Guangxi||161||6.3|
|64||Wunung sinkhole||Papua New Guinea, East New Britain||160||24|
|65||Poipun sinkhole||Papua New Guinea, East New Britain||160||1.7|
|66||Majlis al Jinn||Oman, Ash Sharqiah Region||158.2||>4|
|67||Peruaçu South sinkhole||Brazil, Minas Gerais||150||5|
- Zhu Xuewen, Chen Weihai. Tiankengs in the karst of China. Speleogenesis and Evolution of Karst Aquifers. The Online Scientific Journal.
- Tony Waltham. Tiankengs of the world, outside China. Speleogenesis and Evolution of Karst Aquifers. The Online Scientific Journal.