7 Massive Holes in the Earth

November 13, 2009 · Mines / Factories, World Ruins 

The Earth’s face is a pock-marked, scarified thing, riddled with enormous holes dug by human hands or caused by the caprices of nature. Deep ‘blue hole’ lagoons accrete within coral reefs, volcanoes tear the earth apart leaving enormous smoking craters, weak undergound sewage lines can lead to sudden sink-holes in the middle of cities, open-pit mines strip the hearts out of mountains, nuclear weapons tests blast whole islands out of existence.  Here are 7 awe-inspiring examples of such enormous holes.

Craters, mines, lagoons, sink-holes.

1. The El Sod Crater, Ethiopia

‘El Sod is a former volcano with only a crater lake remaining now.
It takes 45 minutes to reach by going down, to see the Boranas tribe working in the green waters to put out some black mud which contains some salt. The men work totally nude, even if they are muslim. The salt will be given both to animals and people.
To climb up the crater, it takes more than one hour under a very hot sun… So once the men have finished to fill up bags of 25 kg, they put 2 on donkeys and come back to village. They can do this 2 or 3 times a day. The salt attacks the skin, the eyes, and the whole body as they have to dive to take the mud. It’s an incredible place to see in the 21th century.’

Eric Laffourgue

Diving into the muck to pull out the salt-heavy mud.

Carrying a boulder of mud.

2. Barringer Meteor Crater, Arizona

Meteor Crater is a meteorite impact crater located in the northern Arizona desert of the United States . The site was originally known as the Canyon Diablo Crater, but scientists now generally refer to it as Barringer Crater in honor of Daniel Barringer who was first to suggest that it was produced by a meteorite impact, about 50,000 years ago. At that time the local climate on the Colorado Plateau was much cooler and damper, an open grassland dotted with woodlands inhabited by woolly mammoths, giant ground sloths, and camels. It was probably not inhabited by humans; the earliest confirmed record of human habitation in the Americas dates from long after this impact.

1.2 km wide, 170 meters deep, with a rim 45 meters high.

The owners of the Crater proclaim it to be the first proven, best-preserved meteorite crater on earth.

Excavated by a nickel-iron meteorite about 50 meters across.

3. Mirny Diamond Mine, Siberia

Mirny Mine is  the second largest excavated hole in the world, after Bingham Canyon Mine. I’d include Bingham Canyon here but it’s not as astonishing as Mirny, since it’s dug into a mountain range- it could almost be mistaken for a natural valley. With Mirny there’s no chance of that, abutting so closely to a large industrial town.

The mine was discovered in 1955 and developed from 1967, in part by De Beers. Hard-freezing of the ground 7 months of the year complicated mining, but they got around it by using no water in the refinement process (because the water would freeze). 

Mirny is 525 meters deep and 1.2 km across.

The airspace above the mine is closed for helicopters because of a few incidents in which they were sucked in by the downward air flow.

Currently 3,600 workers are digging tunnels to capture rogue diamonds. The mine closed proper in 2001.

4. Belize’s Great Blue Hole

The Great Blue Hole is a large underwater sinkhole off the coast of Belize. The hole is circular in shape, and was formed as part of a limestone cave system during the last glacial period when sea levels were much lower. As the ocean began to rise again, the caves flooded, and the roof collapsed. It is believed to be the world’s largest feature of its kind.

Over 300 metres across and 125 metres deep.

Named one of the world’s top ten scuba diving locations.

Gorgeous, ginormous.

What a Blue Hole looks like.

5. Castle Bravo Nuclear Blast Crater, the Marshall Islands

The US tested atmospheric nuclear weapons on the remote Pacific Marshall islands for years, with the largest conducted in 1954, code-named Castle Bravo. It had a 15 megaton blast yield and tore the island of Elugelab from the face of the Earth.

Marshall Islanders watch the blast.

Where Elugelab used to be.

What was land, now sea.

6. Phalaborwa Copper Mine, South Africa

Another vast mine, South Africa’s leading copper producer, with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes per day

Palabora produces about 80,000 tonnes of refined copper per year.

400 employees work on site.

Mining began in 1964.

7. Guatemalan Sinkhole

In February 2007 a giant sinkhole opened up in a poor district of Guatemala City, sucking in 10 houses and killing 2 people. According to Guatemala City officials the hole was caused by leaking sewer pipes, which eroded the earth.Residents said a terrible stench exuded from the hole, along with bizarre churning sounds and a foul vapor.

More than 100 meters deep.

Sheer walls.

Do you know of any other awesome deep holes? Let me know in the comments, they can be added to a follow-up post, with link credit to you.

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Comments:
17 Responses to “7 Massive Holes in the Earth
  1. Jc says:

    Wow, great minds think alike. I was great to see some new holes and especially better pictures.

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/10/gallery_mines/

  2. MJG says:

    JC- Hadn’t seen that post, checking it out now, cheers for link.

    Rob- More great links, love the photoshopped version of him like a Transformer.

  3. The Envoy says:

    So only the first hole is natural….what a sad planet.

  4. Steve Allen says:

    A correction for the Castle Bravo crater: The photo of the crater in the water is the Castle Bravo crater and is located on Bikini Atoll but Elugelab was not destroyed by the Castle Bravo test. Elugelab was actually destroyed by the first thermonuclear test on Enewetak Atoll in October of 1952. The first photo in the group is of the concrete dome on Runit Island which is actually in Enewetak Atoll some 200 miles to the west of Bikini. Just to the northeast of the dome is another blast crater. The concrete dome can be located on Google Earth at 11.552543 deg North, 162.347302 deg East. Elugelab was originally at approximately 11.666757 deg North, 162.188553 deg East.

    Just thought you’d like to know

  5. Ashly says:

    these whole’s are something else. i wonder where the Belize’s Great Blue Hole goes to. and the Guatemalan Sinkhole, how r they going to fix that?

    this world is so interesting!!

  6. CourtC777 says:

    Wow, cool stuff to read about. :3

  7. Kathleen May Farlow says:

    I’m a University student and I’m really digging these massive holes (pun intended)…I’m doing Geography and I love this sort of shit..it makes life worth living. I’m actually not taking the piss here. Oh and MR comment number 7..you spelt ‘Hole’ wrong..and that apostrophe implies that the ‘whole’ is a person capable of owning whatever follows in the rest of your sentence.

    My name COULD have been Storm Walker. But it isn’t.

    Laterz biatches. Xx

  8. MJG says:

    Envoy- Sad indeed, but also quite awe-inspiring I feel.

    Charles- Great link, thanks!

    Steve- Thanks for the corrections, much appreciated.

    Ashly- Agreed, I can`t imagine how you fix a sinkhole other than just filling it up with stuff, and hoping another one doesn`t suck in somewhere else.

    CourtC77- Cheers.

    Kathleen- I`ll take you at your word, glad you like the post. Not sure what the Storm Walker reference is, but I like your energy.

  9. Gerald MacLennon says:

    As of 31 May 2010, Guatemala City now has the dubious distinction of two giant sinkholes.

  10. Gerald MacLennon says:

    I visited a friend in Guatemala City for Navidad 2008. She used only bottled water for drinking and cooking. I asked why. She said, in espanol, that the capital city still uses the ancient underground pipes placed there by the Spanish provincial government in the 17th century. Guatemala City is a civil engineer’s nightmare. Much of it was been built without city plans, ordnances or safety codes. It is no surprise to any educated Guatamalteco that two sinkholes have appeared in the past 3 years. The greatest surpise, I would suppose, is that there aren’t more. My Chapina friend joked, “Someday the whole city may disappear into the earth.” We laughed… then.

  11. Bob Elliott says:

    Eugelap was the island that vaporized under the first Hydrogen bomb at Enewetak atoll, operation Ivy Mike. Castle Rock at Bikini atoll was the first test of an “operational” hydrogen bomb. The cement-filled crater was filled with hot dirt, WWII leftover junk, etc. in a massive cleanup prior to letting islanders back. GSA had bought the concrete bagged instead of bulk, so US Navy personnel had to open each bag. When the crater was 80 percent full there was no more junk to be entombed but the Army general in charge made those Navy people keep opening bags of concrete until the crater was full.

  12. Mandy says:

    The money pit. It may not be large in diameter, but it’s still massive in depth and a major mystery.

  13. Ray says:

    Chuquicamata copper mine, in Chile, is massive. Used to be the biggest open mine in the world. Check it out!

  14. Ted says:

    Thornton Quarry south of Chicago was considered one of the largest in the world. When I was a child I was told that it was the second largest open quarry in the world. Not sure now, and it has grown since then, not so much in distance end to end, but it has become considerably deeper.

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