Do you have a fascination with deep pits or holes in the Earth? If not, you’re in the majority. These travel destinations are often overlooked.
Humans have explored more in outer space than we have in the deepest parts of the world.
But, today, we’ll take a look at five of the deepest pits on Earth and learn more about them.
Let’s dig in!
Where Is the World’s Deepest Pit?
Depending on whether or not you’re referring to artificial or natural, the answer will differ. In your opinion, does the artificial borehole in Russia count? Or are you only considering natural phenomena like the blue hole off the coast of China? Let’s look closer at both of these two deepest pits in the world.
World’s Deepest Artificial Pit: Kola Superdeep Borehole
Located in Russia, the Kola Superdeep Borehole was a scientific exploration of the Earth’s surface. At more than 12 kilometers deep, this borehole took the Russians 20 years to drill. Rock samples and geological studies helped guide scientists to a better understanding of the Earth’s crust.
With discoveries like microscopic fossils more than two billion years old and temperatures well past 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the Kola Superdeep Borehole was an important scientific project over the 1970s and ‘80s.
Today, however, the cover is welded shut and remains untouched for the most part.
5 facts about Kola Superdeep Borehole
1: The Kola Superdeep Borehole is the deepest borehole ever drilled, reaching a depth of 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) into the Earth’s crust. It is located in the Kola Peninsula in Russia and was started in 1970.
2: The project was a collaboration between the Soviet Union and several other countries, including France, Japan, and the United States. It was designed to investigate the Earth’s crust and to study the composition and properties of the rocks at such great depths.
3: The drilling process encountered many challenges, including high temperatures and pressures, which required the use of specialized equipment and materials. At its deepest point, the temperature at the bottom of the borehole was estimated to be around 356°F (180°C).
4: The project was ultimately abandoned in 1992 due to a lack of funding and technical difficulties. The borehole was capped and abandoned, but the scientific data gathered from the project is still being studied today.
5: The Kola Superdeep Borehole is considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century and has contributed greatly to our understanding of the Earth’s crust and its geology. However, it has also sparked controversy and conspiracy theories, with some people believing that the project was actually a cover-up for secret military or paranormal research.
Deepest Naturally Occurring Pit: Dragon Hole in China
At more than 300 meters deep, the Dragon Hole in the South China Sea could be the deepest natural pit on Earth. Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas held the previous record for the deepest blue hole. Blue holes like these assist scientists in studying the evolution of climate change in the sea. Similar to how sinkholes form on land, blue holes form through weathering and erosion and become flooded with water.
Because the Dragon Hole doesn’t have caves letting in ocean tides, the water is stagnant. This means there’s no oxygen below 80 meters and thus little life beyond the surface level.
This also means diving exploration is difficult and dangerous. Scientists are still learning about blue holes and how best to conduct research in them.
5 Fun Facts about Dragon Hole in China
- Dragon Hole, also known as Longdong, is the deepest known blue hole in the world, located in the Paracel Islands of the South China Sea. It is estimated to be over 300 meters (984 feet) deep.
- The name “Dragon Hole” comes from Chinese mythology, which believes the Paracel Islands to be the home of the Dragon King, a powerful deity in Chinese folklore.
- Dragon Hole was discovered by a team of Chinese scientists in 2016, who conducted a series of deep-sea dives to explore the area. They found a rich ecosystem of coral, fish, and other marine life and geological formations that could help us better understand the history of the Earth’s oceans.
- In 2017, a team of divers attempted to set a new world record by descending to the bottom of Dragon Hole but were forced to turn back due to technical difficulties. The current world record for the deepest scuba dive is held by Ahmed Gabr, who descended to a depth of 332.35 meters (1,090 feet) in the Red Sea in 2014.
- Dragon Hole has become a popular destination for tourists and diving enthusiasts, who can explore the underwater world of the South China Sea and marvel at the natural wonders of the deep. However, due to the area’s fragile ecosystem, visitors are encouraged to respect the environment and dive responsibly.
The Deepest Pits on Earth
There are other deepest pits around the world, both artificial and natural. Let’s look closer at five of the deepest pits on Earth.
Bingham Canyon Mine, Utah
As the leading producer of copper in the U.S., the Bingham Canyon Mine is one of the largest open-pit excavations in the world at 1,200 meters deep. Still operating today, mining the remaining ore could take until around 2028. In that time, the pit could deepen by 300 more feet.
Two massive landslides in 2013 caused the Bingham Canyon Mine Visitors Center to close permanently. However, the Rio Tinto Kennecott Visitor Experience has since re-opened.
Pro Tip: After exploring Bingham Canyon Mine why not check out some of Utah’s national parks. We ranked Utah’s National Parks Ranked Best To Worst.
Great Blue Hole, Belize
Part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, the Great Blue Hole is a diver’s paradise. The hole is about 125 meters deep and 300 meters wide, making it one of the deepest pits in the world. The beautiful waters and sea life beckon divers from all over the world to explore this natural formation. Divers can take day trips to the blue hole and discover the reef teeming with life.
They can examine the unique rock formations as well. Like other blue holes, the lack of oxygen and light farther down creates environments devoid of life.
Diavik Diamond Mine, Canada
About 200 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle sits the land of diamonds. Canada’s Diavik Diamond Mine resides on an island in the Lac de Gras. Because it’s so remote, the mine operates as a self-contained community with sleeping quarters, dining areas, educational buildings, and recreational facilities.
The pipes at Diavik Diamond Mine extend more than 400 meters below the surface. Although it began as an open-pit mining facility, now it’s an underground operation. In 2024, mining will cease, and they’ll begin restoring the original shoreline of the Lac de Gras.
Berkeley Pit, Montana
From 1955 to 1982, the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana, operated as one of the leading producers of copper in the country. When it closed, the pit began filling with acidic water and dangerous chemicals from the mine shaft, making it one of the largest Superfund sites in the U.S.
These sites help clean up hazardous materials to protect the environment. Tourists can visit the site of the more than 1,700-foot deep pit. A platform above the pit allows visitors to view the water pouring into the Berkeley Pit from May to October.
Today, open mining continues in the area.
Pro Tip: After exploring the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana, check out these 5 Spooky Ghost Towns in Montana.
Red Lake, Croatia
Red Lake near Imotski, Croatia, is located in a sinkhole approximately 530 meters deep, the third-largest sinkhole in the world. Although the water is blue, the sinkhole is named after the red-colored cliffs surrounding it.
Nearby, tourists can also visit Blue Lake, which has a depth of 200 meters. The depth varies with the seasons, and the lake sometimes disappears altogether. There’s a walking path down to the lake, whereas viewing Red Lake is much more difficult due to the high cliffs.
There’s only a small viewing platform next to the road. Locals also say it’s nearly impossible to throw a stone into Red Lake.
The Earth’s Deepest Pits Provide Learning Opportunities
These artificial and natural pits around the world offer visitors glimpses into the unknown. Whether it’s learning about microorganisms or producing natural resources, these deepest pits in the world give us a different lens through which to see our planet. Perhaps venture out to Croatia and attempt to throw a stone into Red Lake.
Perhaps visit the platform in Butte, Montana, and gaze deep into the pit at Berkeley. Which one will you choose to visit or learn more about?
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