World's biggest cluster of sinkholes found in Hanzhong, China

World's biggest cluster of sinkholes found in Hanzhong, China

Geologists have confirmed that a group of 49 sinkholes discovered in the mountains near Hanzhong city of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province contains the largest number of such a rare geological phenomena in the world.

The scientists took about four months to survey the entire area, spreading over the Ningqiang, Nanzheng, Xixiang, and Zhenba counties, and find the sinkholes. The surveyed area covers 5 000 km2 (1930.5 mi2) while the 49 sinkholes were discovered on a surface covering over 600 km2 (231.7 mi2).

The area comprises one super large sinkhole, as well as 17 large and 31 conventional sinkholes. The largest sinkhole has the diameter of 520 m (1 706 feet) and is 320 m (1 050 feet) deep at its maximum.

The sinkholes have formed in a process where the carbonate rocks eroded over a prolonged period of time by an underground river. According to geologists, such a rare phenomenon can form over 500 000 years. So far, only 130 such sinkholes have been found across the globe.

Video credit: CCTV News

An international group of scientists was called by the Shaanxi government in October 2016 to conduct a survey in the area. The discovery will be of great scientific values.

According to Jean Poutasi, a French cave explorer the sinkhole found in Ningqiang county is the "world's most beautiful sinkhole".

Zhang Yuanhai, a senior engineer with Institute of Karst Geology under Chinese Academy of Geological Science, said that the scientific value of Hanzhong sinkholes was unmatched.

Sinkholes Hanzhong China November 2016

Image credit:

"The sinkholes found before are located between north latitude 24 degrees and 31 degrees, but Hanzhong sinkholes are located near north latitude 33 degrees, and the first geological landscape found in the most north boundary of the humid tropical and subtropical Karst landform area, which has exceeded expectations of all geologists," said Zhang Yuanhai, a senior engineer at the Institute of Karst Geology under Chinese Academy of Geological Science.

Liu Tongliang, director of the Institute of Karst Geology at the Chinese Academy of Geological Science, explained the discovery will aid in understanding the evolution of the ancient environment in the south of Qinling Mountains, and the ancient climate change that occurred in the northern and southern China, and the world.

Featured image credit:

Register/become a supporter

Support us AD-FREE

Your support is crucial for our survival. It makes this project fully self-sustainable and keeps us independent and focused on the content we love to create and share. 

Monthly subscription

Subscription options

Yearly subscription

Subscription options

You'll receive your ad-free account for 20x faster browsing experience, clean interface without any distractions, ability to post comments without prior editorial check, all our desktop and mobile applications (current and upcoming) ad-free and with the full set of features available, a direct line of communication and much more. See all options.


No comments yet. Why don't you post the first comment?

Post a comment

Your name: *

Your email address: *

Comment text: *

The image that appears on your comment is your Gravatar