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Pozo de las Animas – Well of Souls

Pozo de las Ánimas, northern sinkhole
Pozo de las Ánimas, northern sinkhole / Luis Adrian Crescentino Memoli, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldBlue  In short

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.

4.4 out of 10 stars 43.8%

GPS coordinates
35.1897 S 70.0004 W
Location, address
South America, Argentina, Mendoza province, some 60 km north-west from Malargüe, 6 km from De Los Molles
Depth
101 m

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Sinkholes

Both sinkholes have been created by a collapse of underground voids, which in turn were created by groundwater flows that dissolved thick gypsum layers.

A thin, crumbling wall divides both holes. In the future, both of them most likely will be joined into one.

Southern sinkhole

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.

Pozo de las Ánimas, northern sinkhole
Pozo de las Ánimas, northern sinkhole / -weezar-, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

There is a small, light blue lake on the bottom of the sinkhole. The water level and the size of the lake is changing.

Northern sinkhole

This sinkhole has steep, crumbling sides and it is dangerous to approach the rims of it. Here the erosion continues – the sinkhole is gradually increasing.

Diameter of the sinkhole is roughly 300 m, total depth – approximately 101 m. Rims are some 80 m high but the lake – 21 m deep.

The first known descent in the lake took place on December 18, 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.

Legend

There is a legend about the origin of these sinkholes:

People on both sides of the Andes were at war with each other. Once a group of warriors from the western (Chilean) side was chasing a small group of people from the Argentinian Los Molles town.

Pozo de las Ánimas, southern sinkhole
Pozo de las Ánimas, southern sinkhole / Roberto Fiadone, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

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.

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