Mystery sinkhole ranks among deepest in the world
Hundreds of cubic feet of earth gave way to form a gigantic sinkhole measuring 600-plus feet deep, puzzling experts working to figure out what triggered the massive implosion.
Investigators are working to find out what caused a sinkhole deeper than the Leaning Tower of Pisa to form near a copper mine in Chile.
A huge sinkhole measuring larger than a tennis court suddenly opened up near a copper mining operation in Chile, swallowing large chunks of soil, and investigators are trying to figure out what exactly triggered one of the largest ground collapses in the world.
The enormous pit in Tierra Amarilla, in the country’s Atacama Desert region, measures 105-feet-wide (32 meters) and about 650-feet-deep (200 meters), according to Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service, Sernageomin.
Hundreds of cubic feet of soil caved in on Saturday and investigators with Sernageomin were immediately called in. They visited the site to examine the hole and to determine what might have caused such a massive ground collapse. So far, it’s got them baffled.
As they work on pinpointing what caused the sinkhole, one thing is clear: The deep chasm appears to be widening with each day. The sinkhole was initially measured at 82-feet-wide, but the next day the agency reported that its actual dimensions were 105 feet.
Cristian Zuniga, mayor of Tierra Amarilla, told reporters that the sinkhole is unprecedented.
"We ask that the cause be clarified: whether the collapse is the product of mining activity or something else," he said.
Footage of the sinkhole shared by AFP shows the sheer enormity of the crater and its incredible depth.
There have been no reported injuries or impacts to the mining infrastructure or equipment, the operator of the Alcaparrosa mine, Canadian firm Lundin Mining, said.
Mining officials also said that, so far, the sinkhole has remained stable since it was discovered. As a precaution, the area around the massive crater has been cordoned off with a 300-foot security perimeter.
Also, company officials said that “development work” in an area of the mine “has been temporarily suspended.”
David Montenegro, Sernageomin's director, said his agency would "ensure safety measures are taken to safeguard the lives of workers and communities close to the site."
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, sinkholes can have a variety of causes but are often associated with groundwater dissolving rock that can quickly or over time create caverns or spaces that collapse suddenly despite the surface appearing stable.
This latest sinkhole in Chile ranks as one of the deepest in the world, according to Largest.org, which keeps track of the largest of everything in the world.
The Chilean sinkhole is larger than the 387-foot-deep Nongle Sinkhole, which was discovered in 2018 in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region in China.
Also in China, a 623-foot-deep cavernous pit flush with a thriving forest growing inside was discovered in May of this year.
MORE TO EXPLORE:
Want next-level safety, ad-free? Unlock advanced, hyperlocal severe weather alerts when you subscribe to Premium+ on the AccuWeather app. AccuWeather Alerts™ are prompted by our expert meteorologists who monitor and analyze dangerous weather risks 24/7 to keep you and your family safer.Report a Typo