Be Careful Where You Step: the Freakiest Sinkholes Around the World

by Michael Mosher on August 4, 2014

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It’s not that art museums, gourmet food, and luxury hotels aren’t compelling. But there is a certain “holy crap” factor to seeing a sinkhole during your travels. Formed when rocks below the earth’s surface are dissolved by water leaving a giant bubble of air, the holes or “sinks” can suddenly suck whole houses, cars, and entire city blocks under the earth (which began to happen when a sinkhole wreaked havoc this weekend in Tampa, Fla.).

Thankfully, NASA has come up with a plan to identify and track the formations of holes in the near future. For now, there are a few places you can visit safely — provided you stay far, far, far back from the edge. Here are our favorite terrifying — as well as beautiful and bewitching — holes to behold this summer.

Be Careful Where You Step: the Freakiest Sinkholes Around the World

The National Corvette Museum, with its very own sinkhole (Photo: The National Corvette Museum)

The National Corvette Museum, Kentucky

The 60-foot wide sinkhole that sucked up eight vintage corvettes (including a 1993 “Ruby Red” 40th Anniversary Corvette and a 2009 “Blue Devil” ZR1this February has now become the main attraction of this small museum in Bowling Green, Ky. Attendance has increased 59 percent from March to June, averaging about 17,000 people a month — most visitors are there to see the sinkhole as well as the mangled cars. Get there in August to see the full sinkhole. In September, the repairs will begin, and the plan is to leave only a small portion of the crater visible. While you’re there: Test your skills changing tires at the Pit Crew Challenge Exhibit.


A view from within Alabama’s Neversink Pit (Photo: JV Van Swearingen IV/Facebook)

Neversink Pit, Alabama

In Jackson County, Ala., the Neversink Pit is a wet, limestone sinkhole formed when acidic water eroded the rock beneath the ground. Rare ferns spill off the eerie ledges, and bats roost in the niches. If you’re like the many climbers and cavers who come to rapel down to the bottom, expect to hit the ground at 162 feet, where the cave also balloons out to a diameter of 100 feet. While you’re there: Check out the neighboring waterfall, and donate to the Southeastern Cave Conservancy, which protects and cares for the pit.


Devil’s Sinkhole, a natural landmark (Photo: Texas Parks & Wildlife) 

Devil’s Sinkhole, Texas

This enormous limestone cavern just north of Rocksprings, Texas, plunges to 350 feet below the earth and stretches over 50 feet wide (at the top) and 320 feet (at the bottom). A platform lets you peer straight down — but, unfortunately, won’t help with the vertigo. (Devil’s Sinkhole Society, 830-683-2287; no website) While you’re there: Take a bat tour at sunset, when about 3 million of the winged creatures emerge from the hole and soar into the night sky.


Where the earth opened up in Sharon Springs, Kansas (Photo: Wallace County Sheriff’s Department)

Sharon Springs Sinkhole, Kansas

This as-yet unnamed hole swallowed an entire pasture outsideSharon Springs, Kan., in 2013. It measures an impressive 200 to 300 feet wide and 90 feet deep (about nine stories). Barricades have been erected, though, because the pit is still growing — the farther back you stand the better. While you’re there: Drive 30 miles to Goodland, Kan., to see the giant Van Gogh painting.


A gorgeous sinkhole in the Bahamas(Photo: Ton Engwirda/Wikipedia Creative Commons)

Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas

Imagine a sinkhole 10,000-feet wide and 400-feet deep. Now cover it with seawater the color of liquid blue popsicles and you’ve got Dean’s Blue Hole. Formed as a limestone cave system during the last ice age, the chasm lies off the coast of the Bahamas and bottoms out at 660 feet, making it the deepest chasm in the ocean known to man (as of now). While you’re there: Try a beginners free-diving course in the hole, where pros come every year to train among the seahorses, rays, and other tropical fish.


One of the many sinkholes by the Dead Sea (Photo: Izhar Laufer/Flickr)

Dead Sea Sinkholes, Israel

As of last year, more than 3,000 sinkholes had appeared along the coast of the Dead Sea near Ein Gedi, Israel. Their formation, sadly, is due to the fact that the salty lake is slowly drying out. Some of holes are as large as 39-feet wide and 65-feet deep. And in one case, a date plantation was swallowed, as well as a few humans. While you’re there: View the dangerous (and still forming) holes from a distance, and slather yourself with black mud during a therapeutic dip in the nearby hot springs.


The deepest drop in New Zealand: Harwood Hole (Photo: Paul Rowe/Flickr)

Harwood Hole, New Zealand

Located in Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand, Harwood Hole is the deepest drop in New Zealand, tunneling down to — gulp — 1,157 feet, where it connects with a huge rambling cave system, the most famous of which is Starlight Cave. Looking down is amazing — and dangerous, as there are no barriers to the hole’s opening. So watch where you step. While you’re there: Take a mountain bike ride on nearby Canaan Downs Scenic Reserve. 


Mexico’s Ik Kil, a limestone cenote (Photo:BORIS G/Flickr)

Ik Kil, Mexico 

There are more than 6,000 limestone sinkholes — also called cenotes — in the Mexican Yucatan, only 2,400 of which have been explored and discovered. Like the best of them, Ik Kil is easy to access, with a staircase that leads you 85 feet down. There, you can swim in the crystal water among some very weird looking catfish and stare up at the waterfalls and hanging vines. Just don’t wear sunscreen, however, as it pollutes the fresh waters. While you’re there: Visit the nearby mysterious Mayan pyramids of Chichén Itzá.

Full article…here

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