Giant Cenote-Like Sinkhole Discovered in China’s Guangxi

Photo: Zhou Hua/Xinhua


A Chinese cave exploration team on Friday, May 6, discovered a giant karst sinkhole in Leye County, in the south the country’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, bringing Leye’s number of such sinkholes to 30.

China’s sinkholes are similar to the underground waterways cenotes found in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

The massive newly discovered Guangxi sinkhole measures 306 meters in length, 150 meters in width and 192 meters in depth, with its volume exceeding 5 million cubic meters.

Giant sinkholes, also known as tiankeng (heavenly pit) in Chinese, are dolines, or giant pits, with special geological features found in karst regions formed by repeated cave-ins. They are mainly found in China, Mexico and Papua New Guinea.

The expedition was completed on Friday after the team members abseiled down more than 100 meters and trekked several hours to reach the pit’s bottom. They returned to the ground safely that same evening.

Zhang Yuanhai, a senior engineer with the Institute of Karst Geology of China Geological Survey, said that there are three big caves in the wall, which are presumed to be the remains of the early evolution of the sinkhole.

The bottom of the sinkhole has a well-preserved primitive forest.

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