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Largest sinkholes of the world

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

WorldYellow Where are located the largest sinkholes of the world?

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

The 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 the 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 a 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 volcanicaly heated water. Some of these giant sinkholes have sealed themselves with travertine lids and may hide unknown organisms inside!
Majlis al Jinn in Oman, ascending towards the Cheryl's Drop
Majlis al Jinn, ascending towards the Cheryl’s Drop / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

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 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!

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!

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.


Other articles about 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.


Used sources of information

and other sources.

WorldViolet Table of the deepest sinkholes of the world

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 Sima Aonda Venezuela, Bolívar 383 ?
10 Xiashiyuan tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 373 31.5
11 Daluodang tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 372 10.4
12 Sótano de las Golondrinas – Cave of the Swallows Mexico, San Luis Potosí 372 5
13 Tongtian tiankeng China, Guizhou 370 7.2
14 Longgang tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 350 9.2
15 El Zacatón sinkhole Mexico, Tamaulipas 339 10
16 Lomes Longmot Indonesia, West Papua 330 ?
17 Jiaole tiankeng China, Guangxi 325 67.0
18 Dachang tiankeng China, Guizhou 320 10.0
19 Sima Humboldt Venezuela, Bolívar 314 21
20 Chuandong tiankeng China, Guangxi 312 11.7
21 Baidong tiankeng China, Guangxi 312 5.8
22 Naré sinkhole Papua New Guinea, East New Britain 310 4.7
23 Dragon Hole South China Sea, Paracel Islands 300.89 ?
24 Atea doline Papua New Guinea, Southern Highlands >300 ?
25 Kukumbu sinkhole Papua New Guinea, West New Britain 300 75
26 Qingkou tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 295 9.2
27 Luoquanyan tiankeng China, Hubei 290 ?
28 Datuo tiankeng China, Guangxi 290 32.7
29 Modro Jezero – Blue Lake Croatia, Split-Dalmatia 290 22
30 Xiaokeng tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 286 12
31 Shenying tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 285 9.7
32 Dengjiatuo tiankeng China, Guangxi 278 26.2
33 Qinlong tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 276 31.7
34 Ora sinkhole Papua New Guinea, East New Britain 275 26
35 Lago Azul Brazil, Goiás >274 >4.3
36 Jiameng tiankeng China, Guangxi 271 1.6
37 Leang Pute Indonesia, South Sulawesi 270 ?
38 Shiwangdong tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 252 5.1
39 Lusé sinkhole Papua New Guinea, East New Britain 250 61
40 Teiq sinkhole and cave Oman, Dhofar Governorate 250 90
41 Xiaoyanwan tiankeng China, Sichuan 248 36
42 Sima Martel Venezuela, Bolívar 248 ?
43 Yogoluk sinkhole Indonesia, West Papua 240 4
44 Bandong tiankeng China, Guizhou 240 2
45 Sendirian sinkhole Malaysia, Sarawak 240 2
46 Shenmu tiankeng China, Guangxi 234 13.2
47 Xiaoshui tiankeng China, Guizhou 230 2.8
48 Chadong tiankeng China, Guangxi 225 13.3
49 Bikbik Vuvu sinkhole Papua New Guinea, East New Britain 225 1.5
50 Dacaokou tiankeng China, Guizhou 220 25
51 Ladong tiankeng China, Guangxi 215 2.8
52 Zhongshiyuan tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 214 34.8
53 Tawi Atair sinkhole and cave Oman, Dhofar Governorate 211 0.975
54 Dean’s Blue Hole Bahamas, Long Island 203 1.1?
55 Hoya de las Guaguas Mexico, San Luis Potosí 202 16
56 Nongle sinkhole China, Guangxi 200 ?
57 Bajiao tiankeng China, Guizhou 195 4.0
58 Niubizi tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 195 3.5
59 Harwood Hole New Zealand, Tasman Region 183 ?
60 Sarlacc’s Pit Canada, British Columbia 183 ?
61 Xiaocaokou tiankeng China, Guizhou 180 3.3
62 Keek sinkhole Indonesia, West Papua 180 1.4
63 Laowuji tiankeng China, Guangxi 171 8.3
64 Diaojing tiankeng China, Guangxi 170 12.6
65 Peruaçu North sinkhole Brazil, Minas Gerais 170 10
66 Chongtianyan tiankeng China, Chongqing Municipality 168 7
67 Shuijia tiankeng China, Guangxi 167 2.6
68 Velika Dolina Slovenia, Obalno-kraška 165 3.5
69 Huangjing tiankeng China, Guangxi 161 6.3
70 Wunung sinkhole Papua New Guinea, East New Britain 160 24
71 Kuom Tiankeng Papua New Guinea, West Papua 160 15
72 Poipun sinkhole Papua New Guinea, East New Britain 160 1.7
73 Majlis al Jinn Oman, Ash Sharqiah Region 158.2 >4
74 Peruaçu South sinkhole Brazil, Minas Gerais 150 5

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