June 21, 2024


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Xiaoxhai Tiankeng: the world’s greatest sinkhole

Xiaoxhai Tiankeng: the world’s greatest sinkhole

Xiaoxhai Tiankeng: the world’s greatest sinkhole

(Picture credit score: Design Pics Inc/Alamy)

Xiaoxhai Tiankeng: the world’s greatest sinkhole

It was solely “found” by the surface world in 1994, and consultants nonetheless aren’t certain the way it shaped.


Peering down from outer house on the rolling inexperienced panorama of south-western China’s rural Chongqing Municipality, a collection of deep, darkish gashes seem, denting the land like an alien footprint. Some consultants ponder whether these mysterious formations are the results of a meteorite crashing into the Earth. Others consider they regularly shaped over some 128,000 years, as water seeping into underground rivers slowly carved the encircling limestone rock on its journey.

However one factor is for sure: measuring 660m deep, with a quantity of 130 million cubic metres, China’s Xiaoxhai Tiankeng is each the deepest and largest sinkhole on the planet.

Video: The world’s deepest sinkhole

Tiankeng means the “The Heavenly Pit”, and its sheer sides plummet to a veritable netherworld that is residence to a thriving ecosystem of some 1,285 plant and animal species – together with the uncommon gingko and clouded leopard. Apart from its huge dimension, the formation can be distinctive in that it is a double-nested sinkhole holding two craters joined by a sloping edge. Within the wet season, a waterfall cascades from the mouth of the pit, feeding an underground river and cave community at its base.

Whereas locals have recognized in regards to the sinkholes for hundreds of years, it was solely “found” by the surface world in 1994, when British explorers tried to survey its maze-like underground cave system. Regardless of making an attempt to map the underground river 5 instances in a 10-year interval, speleologists discovered the gushing torrent too tough to navigate and the staff by no means succeeded. Consequently, this deep, darkish underworld stays one in every of China’s nice geological mysteries.

This video is a part of BBC Reel’s Final World playlist.

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