From terrifying home-swallowing sinkholes to picturesque natural caverns, we count fifteen awe-inspiring planetary cavities!
15 – Great Blue Hole,
- An underwater sinkhole located 60 miles off the coast of Belize. The hole is 300 metres across and 125 metres deep, and is found in the centre of the Lighthouse Reef.
- The Great Blue Hole formed as a limestone cave during the last ice age. It’s believed to have been created by a sea level increase.
- It has unusual stilted stalactites and is part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which has been declared as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
- Its circular shape makes it popular among tourists. Scuba divers frequent this reef because of the rare animal species that reside there.
14 – Udachnaya Pipe,
- The Udachnaya Pipe is a diamond mine in Russia. It was discovered on June 15, 1955, just two days after the discovery of the diamond pipe Mir.
- It is over 600 metres deep and is considered the third deepest open-pit mine in the world.
- The mine had estimated reserves of 225.8 million carats of diamonds and an annual production capacity of 10.4 million carats.
- The mine was controlled by Russian diamond company Alrosa until its operations were ceased in 2010 in favour of underground mining.
13 – German Superdeep Hole,
- Germany’s famous superdeep hole was the result of the German Continental Deep Drilling Program, one of the most ambitious geoscientific projects ever.
- The project’s goal was to grant scientists the opportunity to study the earth’s crust, the effects of stress on layers of rock and observe any abnormalities along the way.
- The $350 million project, which concluded in 1994, left Windischeschenbach, Germany with a hole 9,100 metres (30,000 ft) deep and as hot as 265 degrees Celsius (509 °F).
- The project was also notable for Dutch artist Lotte Geeven’s involvement. Geeven wanted to know what the planet sounded like, so arranged to have a geophone lowered into the hole to record ultrasonic waves. She translated the data through a computer program to discover the sounds of the earth, which she likened to a distant thunderstorm. The sound eerily resembles a heartbeat.
12 – The Deluxe Mystery Hole,
- The Deluxe Mystery Hole is a backyard attraction off Oregon’s I-205 freeway. According to the owner and promoter, it’s the most amazing archaeological site in the state.
- The Mystery Hole’s depth has never been accurately determined by modern scientific methods, but the consensus is it is very deep. Some speculate it was dug by primitive people; others think it is a mark of extraterrestrial visitors.
- The hole’s owner – Pastor Barron, leader of the Tunnel People and head of the Universal Church O’ Fun – alleges that the hole is 5,000 years old, but says that with aliens you can never really be sure.
- Going into the Mystery Hole will expose you to the Enchanting Vapours of Encouragement™, which is said to cure any illness and bring great financial and romantic fortune. However, a disclaimer informs hopefuls that these vapours won’t actually do anything.
11 – The Devil’s Sinkhole,
- Edwards County, Texas is the home of The Devil’s Sinkhole, a massive underground limestone chamber with an opening 15 metres wide and a cavern 106 metres deep.
- Visitors are not allowed in this cavern, but, during the summer months, more than three million Mexican free-tail bats can be seen flying from the Sinkhole’s entrance every night.
- The sinkhole has mysterious origins. Before it was a protected site, this cave was raided by treasure-seekers and artefact-hunters. Dart tips and arrowheads have been found there dating back as early as 4000 B.C.