Giant hole in tropical forest
Hoya de las Guaguas is the largest sinkhole by volume in San Luis Potosí, beating in this respect even the famous Sótano de las Golondrinas.
Entrance into this sinkhole is located in beautiful tropical forest covering the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. Sinkhole has been shaped by water in lower Cretaceous limestone.
Entrance shaft is impressive hole, 70 by 45 m large. Maximum depth of this hole is 202 m, but ascent can be made at 143 m depth as well. It looks like incredible abyss amidst the lush wilderness of tropical forest. Walls of abyss are covered with thick blanket of lichen and moss. Sunlight reaches the bottom of the first chamber for few hours per day and here grow large ferns – up to 1.5 m tall. Air in the sinkhole is moist and chilly.
Length of the first chamber is approximately 224 m, width at the widest part – 159 m.
Soon after the first abyss there comes next – it is 153 m deep. Entrance in this next part is 90 m tall and 80 m wide. Here the cave becomes even larger and this chamber belongs to largest cave chambers of the world. It is 184 m long, 158 m wide and up to 290 m tall.
Floor of this deeper chamber is uneven, with lots of blocks collapsed from the roof. Here comes very little natural light. Here among the enormous blocks of rock was found a crevice which brings the total depth of sinkhole to 478 m. The floor of sinkhole most certainly is further below.
Cave was researched by Mexican cavers in 1967 – 1968.
Similar to Sótano de las Golondrinas here live thousands of white-collared swifts (Streptoprocne zonaris Shaw, 1796) in the holes of walls. Birds use this natural wonder as an opportunity to protect their nests. But this ends up with numerous predators waiting at the entrance of sinkhole – thus swifts have to fly possibly fast past the entrance. In evenings the birds gather in large swarms and then all simultaneously fall into it with whistling sound.
In the morning, as their day starts, swifts ascend the giant cave – they fly in circles, gradually rising up to the entrance. This is very impressive sight luring many tourists to this sinkhole.
Cave has been named aftter parrots who also live here. Parrot in Huasteca language is "guagua".
|Coordinates:||21.5309 N 99.0339 W|
|Values:||Geology, Visual, Biology|
|Address:||North America, Mexico, San Luis Potosí, 17 km north from Xilitla, 2 km north-east from Tampaxal|
|Alternate names:||Sotano de las Guaguas, Sótano de las Huahuas, Xoc-Guaguas (in Huasteca language)|
|Depth:||478 m, entrance shaft – 202 m|
|Volume:||16 million m³|
Few countries of the world can offer such array of unique and astounding attractions as Mexico.
Area of this country was cradle of several highly developed indigenous civilizations and some regions in the country are dotted with remnants of ancient cities with temples, palaces and pyramids.
Category includes outstanding sinkholes – large natural depressions or holes, which for most part represent collapsed caves.
This book illustrates the diversity of hypogene speleogenetic processes and void-conduit patterns depending on variations of the geological environments by presenting regional and cave-specific case studies. The cases include both well-known and newly recognized hypogene karst regions and caves of the world. They all focus on geological, hydrogeological, geodynamical and evolutionary contexts of hypogene speleogenesis.
The Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science contains 350 alphabetically arranged entries. The topics include cave and karst geoscience, cave archaeology and human use of caves, art in caves, hydrology and groundwater, cave and karst history, and conservation and management. The Encyclopedia is extensively illustrated with photographs, maps, diagrams, and tables, and has thematic content lists and a comprehensive index to facilitate searching and browsing.