Pozo de las Ánimas - Well of Souls
|Coordinates:||35.1897 S 70.0004 W|
|No:||290 (list of all attractions)|
|Address:||South America, Argentina, Mendoza province, some 60 km north-west from Malargüe, 6 km from De Los Molles|
Pozo de las Ánimas, northern sinkhole.
Luis Adrian Crescentino Memoli, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
Pozo de las Ánimas, southern sinkhole.
Roberto Fiadone, Wikimedia Commons, public domain
Not too far from De Los Molles village, at the road are located two giant sinkholes - Pozo de las Ánimas. Sometimes the desert winds create here an eerie, howling noise and some locals believe that this place is enchanted.
Both sinkholes have been created by a collapse of underground voids, which in turn were created by groundwater flows which dissolved thick gypsum layers.
Thin, crumbling wall divides both holes. In the future both of them most likely will be joined into one.
Less impressive is the southern sinkhole. The diameter exceeds 300 m, but the slopes of this sinkhole are less steep, covered with sparse vegetation. Erosion processes here have stopped. Nevertheless it is not allowed to walk in this sinkhole.
There is a small, light blue lake on the bottom of sinkhole. The water level and the size of the lake is changing.
This sinkhole has steep, crumbling sides and it is dangerous to approach the rims of it. Here the erosion continues - sinkhole is gradually increasing.
Diameter of sinkhole is roughly 300 m, total depth - approximately 101 m. Rims are circa 80 m high but the lake - 21 m deep.
The first known descent in the lake took place on 18th December 1981. It was organized by Rodolfo Rogelio Rocha and 12 people managed to reach the surface of the lake. They researched the lake with a rubber boot and measured the depth of the lake.
There is a legend about the origin of these sinkholes:
People on both sides of Andes were in war with each other. Once a group of warriors from the western (Chilean) side were chasing a small group of people from the Argentinian Los Molles town.
When the night came, the persecuted people could not hear their enemies anymore, and returned to their homes.
In the next morning they gathered a crowd of their townspeople and started to search for their enemies. Soon they heard a strange lament.
Much to their surprise, the townspeople from Los Molles found two giant wells - the earth sunk under the feet of their enemies and now these people were dying in the rising waters of lakes at the bottom of wells.
This weird and gruesome event gave a name to the wells, which since then are considered to be a "place where souls cry". Those locals who are more superstitious, stop here and pray for those souls and spirits which are walking in the mountains.
See Pozo de las Ánimas - Well of Souls on the map of Argentina!