Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sinkhole, Wormhole or Portal to the underworld?

A gaping hole suddenly appears swallowing everything there was on top of it. Entire houses, parts of roads, trees, cars everything there was on top disappears in the seemingly bottomless void. It was an eerie experience to visit such a sinkhole in the middle of Guatemala City. It was approximately 18 metres wide and 100 metres deep (can't see the bottom).

Photo source: Rana Sinha

Soldiers guarding the area around the sinkholes would not allow us near citing “security reasons”.  One uniformed guy even hinted at access in exchange for 'tips'. Then our ever-resourceful taxidriver in Guatemala City, Byron, found a way for us to get near. He found one house, where the owner let us climb to her roof. From there we jumped from roof to roof till we were very near the edge of the agujero to take the photo above. Grateful thanks to Byron and the lovely and kind house owner.

Byron, the resourceful taxidriver/guide/problem-solver in Guatemala City. 
Photo source: Rana Sinha

Two Sinkholes in One City - Guatemala City

Guatemala city has two sinkholes. The one above, which appeared in 2010 and another one below appeared in 2007. Here's another view of the sinkhole above.

Photo source

Entire houses disappeared and the tropical storm Agatha and a bad drainage system were promptly blamed. Experts like Geologist Sam Bonis say that these two are not proper sinkholes as they did not form due to the dissolution of any form of carbonated rock by water as Guatemala City does not have these under it. ”Piping pseudokarst” or Quarternary volcanic deposits crumbling due to erosion caused by leaking water mains is the real explanation given by experts.

Sinkholes Appear All Over the Planet

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.

The tiny plane on the top right-hand corner is a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. 
Photo source:

Sinkholes have appeared all over the planet. There are nine lakes called the Bottomless lakes near Roswell, New Mexico. The Yucatan peninsula has a lot of sinkholes, used as watering holes from the earliest Maya civilization times.

The most beautiful of the sinkholes is undoubtedly the Blue hole of Belize, which is 300 metres across and 124 metres deep. It is the only sinkhole to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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.

Photo source:

There are no confirmed or unconfirmed sightings or reports to support the Wormhole or Portal to the Underworld theory. There are not even rumours that the North Korean military, the Illuminati, Barbara Bush, Michael Jackson (who didn't really die after all) or agencies (so secret that they themselves don't know that they exist) deep within the US government have any links to these.

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.

How Sinkholes are called in Different Languages

They have many names in English. A sink, shake hole, swallow hole, swallet, doline, cenote or the most common name used is sinkhole. Black hole is used for only one of them, the Andros Black Hole in the Bahamas.
  • 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.  

If you want to dig deeper into sinkholes, here is a great and resourceful site

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


Shrinath Vashishtha said...

A mighty enlightening and educative post about the good holes on the planet, indeed! It's an amazing travelogue, with a classic difference. I'm sharing the good post on FB.

Hope, folks around the world, henceforth, start recognizing the better holes other than the only one they have been obsessed with, day in and day out... ;-))

Fotos PPF said...

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Kifus said...

The water filled sinkholes are beautiful, but the one in Guatemala makes me shudder. Do these holes appear suddenly? Hope the people who lived around were warned in time to leave their homes.
Thanks for such an interesting post, Rana!