Largest sinkholes of the world

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World's deepest sinkhole - Xiaozhai tiankeng, with tourist route visible
World's deepest sinkhole - Xiaozhai tiankeng, with tourist route visible / Brookqi, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

The list of deepest sinkholes of the world

Swifts in Sótano de las Golondrinas, Mexico
Swifts in Sótano de las Golondrinas Emigdio Hernández, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Below is list of the most impressive sinkholes of 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.

Table of the deepest sinkholes of the world

NoNameCountry, regionMax depth (m)Volume (million m³)
1Xiaozhai tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality662119.349
2Dashiwei tiankengChina, Guangxi61375
3Crveno Jezero – Red LakeCroatia, Split-Dalmatia53030
4Minyé sinkhole and cavePapua New Guinea, East New Britain51026
5Haolong tiankengChina, Guangxi509110.0
6Kavakuna sinkholePapua New Guinea, East New Britain48012
7Taipingmiao tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality4209.9
8Sótano del BarroMexico, Querétaro41015
9Sima AondaVenezuela, Bolívar383?
10Xiashiyuan tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality37331.5
11Daluodang tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality37210.4
12Sótano de las Golondrinas – Cave of the SwallowsMexico, San Luis Potosí3725
13Tongtian tiankengChina, Guizhou3707.2
14Longgang tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality3509.2
15El Zacatón sinkholeMexico, Tamaulipas33910
16Lomes LongmotIndonesia, West Papua330?
17Jiaole tiankengChina, Guangxi32567.0
18Dachang tiankengChina, Guizhou32010.0
19Sima HumboldtVenezuela, Bolívar31421
20Chuandong tiankengChina, Guangxi31211.7
21Baidong tiankengChina, Guangxi3125.8
22Naré sinkholePapua New Guinea, East New Britain3104.7
23Dragon HoleSouth China Sea, Paracel Islands300.89?
24Atea dolinePapua New Guinea, Southern Highlands>300?
25Kukumbu sinkholePapua New Guinea, West New Britain30075
26Qingkou tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality2959.2
27Luoquanyan tiankengChina, Hubei290?
28Datuo tiankengChina, Guangxi29032.7
29Modro Jezero – Blue LakeCroatia, Split-Dalmatia29022
30Xiaokeng tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality28612
31Shenying tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality2859.7
32Dengjiatuo tiankengChina, Guangxi27826.2
33Qinlong tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality27631.7
34Ora sinkholePapua New Guinea, East New Britain27526
35Lago AzulBrazil, Goiás>274>4.3
36Jiameng tiankengChina, Guangxi2711.6
37Leang PuteIndonesia, South Sulawesi270?
38Shiwangdong tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality2525.1
39Lusé sinkholePapua New Guinea, East New Britain25061
40Teiq sinkhole and caveOman, Dhofar Governorate25090
41Xiaoyanwan tiankengChina, Sichuan24836
42Sima MartelVenezuela, Bolívar248?
43Yogoluk sinkholeIndonesia, West Papua2404
44Bandong tiankengChina, Guizhou2402
45Sendirian sinkholeMalaysia, Sarawak2402
46Shenmu tiankengChina, Guangxi23413.2
47Xiaoshui tiankengChina, Guizhou2302.8
48Chadong tiankengChina, Guangxi22513.3
49Bikbik Vuvu sinkholePapua New Guinea, East New Britain2251.5
50Dacaokou tiankengChina, Guizhou22025
51Ladong tiankengChina, Guangxi2152.8
52Zhongshiyuan tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality21434.8
53Tawi Atair sinkhole and caveOman, Dhofar Governorate2110.975
54Dean’s Blue HoleBahamas, Long Island2031.1?
55Hoya de las GuaguasMexico, San Luis Potosí20216
56Nongle sinkholeChina, Guangxi200?
57Bajiao tiankengChina, Guizhou1954.0
58Niubizi tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality1953.5
59Harwood HoleNew Zealand, Tasman Region183?
60Sarlacc’s PitCanada, British Columbia183?
61Xiaocaokou tiankengChina, Guizhou1803.3
62Keek sinkholeIndonesia, West Papua1801.4
63Laowuji tiankengChina, Guangxi1718.3
64Diaojing tiankengChina, Guangxi17012.6
65Peruaçu North sinkholeBrazil, Minas Gerais17010
66Chongtianyan tiankengChina, Chongqing Municipality1687
67Shuijia tiankengChina, Guangxi1672.6
68Velika DolinaSlovenia, Obalno-kraška1653.5
69Huangjing tiankengChina, Guangxi1616.3
70Wunung sinkholePapua New Guinea, East New Britain16024
71Kuom TiankengPapua New Guinea, West Papua16015
72Poipun sinkholePapua New Guinea, East New Britain1601.7
73Majlis al JinnOman, Ash Sharqiah Region158.2>4
74Peruaçu South sinkholeBrazil, Minas Gerais1505

Sources

and other sources.

Map of the largest sinkholes of the world

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Sima Humboldt and Sima Martel: 4.685500, -64.218500
Sotano de las Golondrinas - Cave of the Swallows: 21.599802, -99.098847
Great Blue Hole: 17.316042, -87.535071
Minye sinkhole and cave: -5.243216, 151.504861
Xiaozhai tiankeng: 30.750537, 109.470140
Teiq sinkhole and cave: 17.155234, 54.627210
Dragon Hole: 16.525000, 111.768072
El Zacaton sinkhole: 22.993019, -98.165760
Black Hole of Andros: 23.975677, -77.702122
Crveno Jezero - Red Lake: 43.454400, 17.199146

Other articles about sinkholes

Sinkholes

Category includes outstanding sinkholes – large natural depressions or holes, which for most part represent collapsed caves.

Most sinkholes are formed by karst processes – by natural solution of carbonate (f.e. limestone, dolomite), sulfide (f.e. gypsum) and salt rocks. Solution process is initiated by water.

10 most impressive sinkholes of the world

Unique list of 10 most impressive 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.

Sótano del Barro, Mexico
Sótano del Barro, Mexico / Aromgom, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

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 volcanicaly heated water. Some of these giant sinkholes have sealed themselves with travertine lids and may hide unknown organisms inside!

A wonder of European nature is the third deepest sinkhole in world – Crveno Jezero in Croatia and some more giant sinkholes in Croatia and Slovenia.

Other miracles of nature are the ancient sinkholes on Sarisariñama tepui in VenezuelaSima 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!

Giant sinkholes can be found also in Bahamas, Brazil, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Oman – each of them is unique monument of nature.

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!

Caver walking inside the Majlis al Jinn cave (Oman)
Caver walking inside the Majlis al Jinn cave / 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 crisscrossed 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.

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