A 630-Feet-Deep Sinkhole Was Discovered In China

By: Kate Row | Published: Aug 31, 2022

On May 6, 2022 a team of Chinese Scientists discovered a giant hole. What makes this an exciting find? This giant sinkhole happened to have an entire forest at the bottom of it.

There are 3 caves in the sinkhole and trees that are over 40 meters tall! Southern China is no stranger to sinkholes, but this discovery has excited scientists because there could be creatures and critters living in this forest that we have yet to explore. Learn more about this exciting new discovery and the intrigue of sinkholes.

How Do Scientists Know How Long A Sinkhole Has Been There?

Scientists can measure how long a sinkhole has been there by the age of the plants growing within the caves. The sinkhole recently discovered in China had 40-meter tall trees and shoulder height vegetation.


Source: the archaeologist

This gives an indication to how long a sinkhole has been there and what could have grown in this time. The dense forest that was found in this sinkhole must have been growing for some time to become as lush as it appears in photos!


Sinkholes Can Form Suddenly Or Overtime

Sinkholes typically form naturally, but these caverns can form suddenly or gradually. When rain or floodwaters build, a sinkhole may begin to develop.


Source: the weather channel

If the weather is dramatic enough, like in the case of a hurricane, a sinkhole can form suddenly and unexpectedly. Other bodies of water such as naturally occuring springs, can contribute to sinkholes as well.

Sinkholes Can Form From Man Made Processes

Sinkholes are usually formed when water meets soil in an imbalance. A man made sinkhole may be created when a well or mine experiences a drop in water levels in an area where soil is being removed or drilled.


Source: smithsonean magazine

Leaking water pipes or stormwater drains might also cause a sinkhole to form. These will form more often in certain kinds of landscapes such as that of Southern China.

Southern China Has Many Sinkholes

Southern China is home to many sinkholes, often referred to as “Heavenly Pits”. Sinkholes are common in this environment because rainwater and carbon dioxide bring acid to the soil.


Source: aan world

The acidic soil trickles into bedrock, creating tunnels. With time, these tunnels will turn into cave chambers which will collapse, creating these sinkholes. This kind of typography is called Karst.

What Was Found At The Bottom of This Sinkhole?

Chinese scientists discovered an entire thriving forest at the bottom of the sinkhole. Living below the surface might be an entire ecosystem. They discovered ancient trees that are over 40 meters tall.

Source: wall street journal

The sinkhole is 630-feet-deep with tons of different landscapes. There were pools, lush trees, mountainous rock, and more. This gives many scientists hope that there might be new species to discover!


There Are Spectacular Sinkholes All Over the World

There are sinkholes all over the world that are incredible tourist attractions. One such sinkhole is in Montezuma, Arizona. The Montezuma Well dates all the way back to prehistoric times.

Source: pinterest

It is estimated that over a million gallons of water flow through the well each day. It has beautiful lush green surroundings and stunning blue water.


Why Do Sinkholes Matter?

Sinkholes are important outside of being interesting discoveries. They have the potential to be home to species which we have not yet explored. Unique ecosystems can be created in these interesting environments.

Source: reddit

Chen Lixin, the lead of the expedition team who discovered the cave explains, “I wouldn’t be surprised to know that there are species found in these caves that have never been reported or described by science until now”.


The Sunken Garden Sinkhole

In Australia, there is a stunning lush sinkhole known as The Sunken Garden. A collapsed rock formed this gorgeous cavern that is home to many different kinds of vegetation.

Source: love your travel

It’s a public park where visitors can appreciate the natural beauty. Interestingly, the sinkhole comes alive with feeding possums at night.


Sinkholes On Fire

In Turkmenistan, there is a sinkhole commonly referred to as “the Door to Hell”. There is some mystery as to how this sinkhole came to be, but we do know Soviet Union scientists used it to try to burn off toxic gasses in the 1970s.

Source: forbes

It gets its name from the fact that red hot lava burns in this pit in the desert. It’s a huge fiery pit that has spewed fire for decades, making it an incredible mystery to scientists.


Climate Change can Cause Sinkholes

The warming of the Earth is swiftly becoming a huge reason for the appearance of more sinkholes. When water levels drop significantly or in a short amount of time, a sinkhole might form.

Source: phys.org

One example of this is in the Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan. This famous beach has experienced decreased water levels which has caused freshwater to mix with the extreme salt water of the shoreline. This has caused the earth to collapse and form various sinkholes.


Sinkholes Can Be Dangerous

While many sinkholes are beautiful attractions, some are extremely dangerous. The Qattara Depression in Egypt is one example of a dangerous sinkhole. It’s a whopping 120km wide and filled with quicksand.

Source: egypt nile cruise

This sinkhole was formed completely naturally. Intense desert winds met salt beds and caused this vast hole to form. This cavern is over 100 meters below sea level at its deepest point. You don’t want to find yourself stuck here!


The Black Holes

We all know about black holes in space, but there are actually a group of sinkholes in the waters of the Bahamas known as the Black Holes. Water in the Bahamas is typically bright tropical blue.

Source: an0ther magazine

However, these sinkholes are eerily dark in color compared to the blue surrounding water. The dark color of these sinkholes is a result of microorganisms that live in them. These tiny creatures actually swallow light, leaving dark black circles in the sea.


Sinkholes Have Been Used by Man Throughout History

Sinkholes have been used in different civilizations for various purposes. In older civilizations, they were sometimes used as human sacrificing pits. More commonly, they have been used as waste disposal sites.

Source: missouri state university digital collections

The problem with using a sinkhole as one big trash can is that this can result in extremely contaminated water. Today, water-filled sinkholes are often used by divers to explore.


There Are Many Sinkholes In Florida

The state of Florida is a common place for sinkholes to occur both gradually and suddenly. The limestone there is easily dissolved by water, which can cause the ground to collapse. A large enough sinkhole could swallow a house whole.

Source: USA today

Fortunately, if caught fast enough a sinkhole can be filled with grout and damage can be prevented. People living in Florida should be aware of the warning signs of a developing sinkhole.