Humongous holes can be found scattered across the globe. Some are made by nature like craters or collapsed cave systems, while others are brought about by mankind. Massive man-made holes scar the Earth with greedy pockmarks indicating natural resources being stripped from the land. A few of these holes are so huge that they can be seen by astronauts with the unaided eye. Still others signal a subterranean fire, open pit diamond mines, and sinkholes. Other holes are a geological phenomena. Here are some of the most massive man-made and natural holes to be found on our planet.
A cenote is a sinkhole filled with groundwater. They form when water that was previously supporting the rock ceiling drops and the ground collapses. Sometimes an active cave system is below the rocks like at Dos Ojos (top) in Mexico, the now flooded and deepest known cave passage. There are a minimum of 25 sinkhole entrances in which people from all over come to swim and play.
(image credits:Mars Anomaly Research,Mars Anomaly Research,NASA)
There are humongous holes all around us, some puncturing the Earth while other space rocks impact other planets. Mars also has many dark holes like MRO at the top. At last count, our planet had more than 170 discovered impact craters. In Arizona and pictured along the bottom, the Barringer Meteorite Crater, also called “Meteor Crater” is almost mile wide and 570 feet deep.
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How would you like to take a vacation to Zacation? Cenote Zacaton (upper left) can be found near the northeastern coast of Mexico. It is the deepest known water-filled sinkhole in the world with a depth of 1043.31 feet. Crveno Jezero (Red Lake) in Imotski, Croatia, (upper right) is known for its 790 feet high cliffs as well as the many caves in the area. From the bottom of Red Lake to the top of the cliff is distance of 1,909 feet. Some massive holes are created by mankind like Island Copper Mine (lower left) on Vancouver Island. At the time that it was closed down, the mine was the lowest man-made spot on Earth and reached a depth of 1,320 feet below sea level. The Udachnaya pipe (lower right) is a open-pit diamond mine in Russia. This mine is over 1,968 feet deep.
Chand Baori Well
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Built in an arid climate back in the 9th century, the incredible well of Chand Baori, India, was the dependable water solution that would last throughout the year. This famous stepwell is more than 98 feet deep, has 13 floors and 3,500 steps. It is a great example of the architectural excellence from centuries past. With no handrails and a 100 feet plunge to the water, this might also be a great place to dive in?
Bingham Canyon Mine
Bingham Canyon Mine is the world’s largest man-made excavation. It is located 28 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. When the digging was started over a hundred years ago, it was a landmark development in open-pit mining operations. Stretching 2.5 miles across and 3/4 of a mile deep, even the astronauts could see this copper mine from outer space with the naked eye. For an even better idea of how humongous this man-made excavation is, if the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine were a stadium, it could seat nine million people.
Diavik Diamond Mine
This diamond mine is located northeast of Yellowknife Canada and produces more than 8 million carats each year. An ice road freezes over in cold weather but it once was the only connection to the huge hole. When supplies could not be trucked in due to icy road hazards, another option was conceived. Due to the remoteness of this mine, an airport was constructed with a 5,235-foot gravel runway that is large enough to land a Boeing 737. This massive hole is extensive, but the life expectancy to continue to rape the land is expected to be 16 to 22 years.
Monticello Dam is located in Napa County, California. When the reservoir is at full capacity and water needs to be drained, this glory hole is used. The glory hole at Monticello Dam is the largest in the world, measuring in with a 87 feet diameter. As the huge hole opens up on the surface of the water, 14,400 cubic feet of water is drained every second. If you shot for adventure here, and jumped in, you would end up shooting out in a jet stream at the bottom of the dam.
In northeast Guatemala in 2007, the ground collapsed and created a humongous sinkhole. It swallowed dozens of homes. Three people were killed and 1,000 people evacuated from the area. This sinkhole was 330 feet deep, a result of fluids from a sewer dissolving the rock underneath. To better mentally calculate the size of the massive hole, the Statue of Liberty would completely fit with 22 feet to spare from the bottom to the top of the sinkhole.
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Kimberley Mine, an open-pit mine in South Africa is one of the world’s deepest man-man holes. This Big Hole is 705 feet deep and nearly circular. Mined from 1871 to 1914, up to 50,000 miners dug this hole with shovels and picks, yielding 6,000 pounds of diamonds. It was mined to a depth of almost 3,600 feet. Today the pit is only 705 feet deep, located in the center of town, and filled partway with groundwater.
We’ve all heard of the Bermuda Triangle where aircraft seem to vanish, but in Russia this sink hole is so large that the airspace above it is off-limits to pilots. A few helicopters were sucked by downdrafts into this massive mine. This abandoned diamond mine is the largest man-made hole in the world and is located in Mirny, Eastern Siberia. The mine is 1,722 feet deep and has a diameter of 3,937 feet. 20-foot tall rock-hauling trucks service Mirny Mine along steep roads that snake back and forth.
Belize Blue Hole
(image credits:Andrew Hounslea,lumq,Adam Hingoro,lumq)
The Blue Hole located 60 miles off of Belize is an almost magical place for divers. The huge blue circle, a blue hole, is an awe-inspiring geological phenomenon. Although there are many blue holes located across the globe, the one in Belize is the finest in the world. Looking down at the circle from above, the dark blue water has a diameter that stretches for 1/4 mile. The depth in the middle of the blue hole is 475 feet deep.
Gates of Hell
(image credits:John Bradley)
In yet another epic human error against the Earth, there is a massive hole burning with an unholy fervor. Located deep within the Karakum desert of Turkmenistan, the Darvaza Gas Crater, or The Burning Gates give off a fiery glow for miles during the dark hours of night. This huge crater was formed by a catastrophic accident when a Soviet drilling rig fell into an underground cavern. The Soviets could smell noxious gas leaking from the hole and set it ablaze. It has been burning ever since 1971 and the scent of burning sulfur is very strong near the edge of the hole. The Burning Gates measures 196 wide and 65 feet deep.