Staggering sinkholes discovered in south China by Geologists

Geologists have discovered a group of 19 sinkholes in the city of Baise in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region – the largest cluster south of the Tropic of Cancer.

The sinkholes feature lush vegetation, valleys and waterfalls. Scientists are interested in the different geological formations inside these holes as well as the many plant species at the bottom of the structures.

The cluster has a volume of over 1 million cubic meters and is part of a group of sinkholes in an area of about 100 square kilometers.

Staggering sinkholes discovered in south China by Geologists

Staggering sinkholes discovered in south China by Geologists

Staggering sinkholes discovered in south China by Geologists

Staggering sinkholes discovered in south China by Geologists

Staggering sinkholes discovered in south China by Geologists

A sinkhole, also known as a cenote, sink, sink-hole, swallet, swallow hole, or doline (the different terms for sinkholes are often used interchangeably), is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. Most are caused by karst processes – the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks or suffosion processes. Sinkholes vary in size from 1 to 600 m (3.3 to 2,000 ft) both in diameter and depth, and vary in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms. Sinkholes may form gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide.

Large and visually unusual sinkholes have been well known to local people since ancient times. Nowadays sinkholes are grouped and named in site-specific or generic names. Some examples of such names are listed below.

Black holes – This term refers to a group of unique, round, water-filled pits in the Bahamas. These formations seem to be dissolved in carbonate mud from above, by the sea water. The dark color of the water is caused by a layer of phototropic microorganisms concentrated in a dense, purple colored layer at 15 to 20 m (49 to 66 ft) depth; this layer "swallows" the light. Metabolism in the layer of microorganisms causes heating of the water. One of them is the Black Hole of Andros.

Blue holes – This name was initially given to the deep underwater sinkholes of the Bahamas but is often used for any deep water-filled pits formed in carbonate rocks. The name originates from the deep blue color of water in these sinkholes, which is created by the high clarity of the water and the great depth of the sinkholes; only the deep blue color of the visible spectrum can penetrate such depth and return after reflection.

Cenotes – This refers to the characteristic water-filled sinkholes in the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize and some other regions. Many cenotes have formed in limestone deposited in shallow seas created by the Chicxulub meteorite's impact.

Sótanos – This name is given to several giant pits in several states of Mexico.

Tiankengs – These are extremely large sinkholes, typically deeper and wider than 250 m (820 ft), with mostly vertical walls, most often created by the collapse of caverns. The term means sky holes in Chinese; many of this largest type of sinkhole are located in China.

Tomo – This term is used in New Zealand karst country to describe pot holes.

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