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.’
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.
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.
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.