Photo source: Rana Sinha
There are many sinkholes in the world. The largest in the world is Xiaozhai Tiankeng in Chongqing, China with a depth of 662 m and with nearly vertical walls.
El Zacatón in Tamaulipas, Mexico is the deepest water-filled sinkhole in the world at 339 metres. 9 new classes of microbes were discovered there at depths of up to 270 metres. Sima Humboldt in Venezuela is the largest sandstone sinkhole with a depth of 314 m and the forest grows at the bottom of the hole.
New sinkholes appearing is good news for panspermia fans or aspiring Von Dänikens: At depths where sunlight or any other light never reaches, three new phyla of bacteria were discovered. This ”proves” that life can exist in planetary bodies in new forms and conditions we can’t even begin to imagine. So, all aliens may not necessarily look like ET, speak American English or fly around on bicycles using their superior mind-power.
- In Guatemala they are called agujero
- In the USA the term used is sinkhole.
- Cenote is the word for them in Yucatan, but elsewhere in Mexico the word is Sótano. The word probably originates in Yucatec Maya dzonot or ts’onot meaning ”well”.
- Doline, is the German and French names for sinkholes.
- Dolina in Spanish and Italian.
- Карстовая воронка or karstovoy varonka in Russian.
- The Polish have a typically Polish name, though with only a few consonants Lej krasowy.
- Not to be left behind, the Hungarians calls it Víznyelő in Hungarian.
- Tiankeng in Chinese means ”heavenly pit” or ”sky hole”. This would suggest a heavenly origin to the hole, perhaps a meteorite, finger of God or similar intervention. Why should this type of phenomenon be called by a Chinese name? Because 6 out of the top ten and 50 of the largest 75 of these sinkhole are found in China.
A very detailed explanation of the sinkhole phenomenon is posted in the website of the USGS Water-Science School.
If you need to build on a sinkhole here is a good book by Professor George F. Sowers.