Mysterious Massive Sinkhole in Chile Ranks Among Deepest

A recently discovered mysterious massive sinkhole in Chile is among the deepest sinkholes discovered worldwide.

The country's National Service of Geology and Mining, Sernageomin, announced on Monday that the sinkhole was 25 meters, or 82 feet, in diameter, but by Tuesday, the agency said that it is actually wider, at around 105 feet in diameter. This is around 11 feet longer than an NBA basketball court, according to USA Today.

Aerial images showed the sinkhole located on land operated by a Canadian Lundin Mining copper mine, which is found around 665 kilometers north of the capital of Santiago, Reuters reported. The Canadian company said in a statement that the sinkhole was discovered on Saturday, adding that "the area was immediately isolated and the relevant regulatory authorities notified."

Chile sinkhole
A recently discovered mysterious massive sinkhole in Chile is among the deepest sinkholes discovered worldwide. Pictured above, an aerial view taken on August 1 shows the large sinkhole that appeared over the weekend near the mining town of Tierra Amarilla in Chile's Copiapó Province. Photo by JOHAN GODOY/AFP via Getty Images

Sernageomin Director David Montenegro said in a statement reported by Reuters that the sinkhole is around 656 feet, or 200 meters, deep.

"We haven't detected any material down there, but we have seen the presence of a lot of water," Montenegro said. No details were revealed about the cause of the sinkhole.

Sinkholes are typically caused by a decline in water levels, such as during drought or due to groundwater pumping, according to Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection. Other activities that can lead to sinkholes include disturbance of soil and concentration of water flow.

Shallower Sinkholes Around the World

Chile's sinkhole depth makes it among the deepest sinkholes that have been discovered in the world, as reported in 2019 by Largest.org, a research-based website that tracks the largest of everything in the world.

The sinkhole is deeper than the Nongle Sinkhole, which is 387 feet deep and was discovered in 2018 in China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It is also larger than the 400-foot deep sinkhole discovered in 1867 in Texas, which is called the Devil's Sinkhole.

Other sinkholes around the world that are less in depth than Chile's sinkhole also include the 407-foot deep Great Blue Hole in Belize and the Qattara Depression in Egypt, which is 436 feet deep.

A sinkhole that formed in Mexico in 2021 is also among those with less depth, at 45 meters, or around 150 feet, to the bottom and a span of 400 feet, according to the Associated Press.

Deeper Sinkholes Worldwide

However, the deepest sinkhole in the world by far would be China's Xiaozhai Tiankeng, with a depth of 2,172 feet. The sinkhole, which is also known as "The Heavenly Pit," was discovered in 1994.

Other sinkholes that are deeper than the one in Chile include the 663-foot deep Dean's Blue Hole in the Bahamas, the 780-foot deep Berezniki (The Grandfather) in Russia, the 804-foot deep Crveno Jezero (Red Lake) in Croatia, the 987-foot deep Dragon Hole on the Parcels Island in the South China Sea, and the 1,148-foot deep Sima Humboldt in Venezuela.

Newsweek reached out to faculty members at the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at the University of South Florida for comment.