World's deepest sinkhole Xiaozhai tiankeng with tourist trail visible. Public Domain.

Tiankeng is a term which was coined in October 2001 by Zhu Xuewen from the China Cave Study Association and Institute of Karst Geology in Guilin, to have a name for this exceptional subgroup of dolines. A doline has to be at least 100 m deep and 100 m in diameter to qualify. Some 75 of those huge dolines are known worldwide, 50 of them are located in China. The rest are found in tropical countries like Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, and Mexico. Tiankeng translates from Chinese as "heavenly pit" or "sky hole" and is the term which is commonly used in Guilin for this huge dolines.

We have only the biggest of all Tiankengs listed from China, despite the abundance of such dolines there. Unfortunately there is little published about them, probably because they are so common, and most publications are in Chinese. However, there are such huge dollines all over the world and we tried to list the most impressive ones, especially those which are of touristic interest.


Name max min Depth Country Location kmz Comment
List of famous Tiankengs
KarstXiaozhai Tiankeng 626 m 537 m 662 m China Chongqing GoogleEarthlocation definitely the deepest sinkhole
KarstCrveno Jezero 475 m 420 m 530 m Croatia Dalmatia GoogleEarthlocation less than half visible, bottom half filled with water
Minyé Sinkhole 350 m 350 m 510 m Papua New Guinea New Britain, Nakanaï Mountains GoogleEarthlocation 5,421 m long cave at the bottom
KarstHranická propast 104 m 34 m 473 m Czech Republic Olomoucký kraj GoogleEarthlocation vast discoveries in the last years
KarstPozzo del Merro 35 m 35 m 392 m Italy Lazio GoogleEarthlocation deepest water filled sinkhole
Sima Aonda 160 m 120 m 383 m Venezuela Auyan Tepui GoogleEarthlocation in quartzite
CaveSótano de las Golondrinas 305 m 135 m 376 m México San Luis Potosí GoogleEarthlocation pretty famous with cavers
KarstCenote Zacatón 116 m 116 m 339 m México Tamaulipas GoogleEarthlocation second deepest water filled sinkhole
Sima Humboldt - Sima Major 352 m 245 m 314 m Venezuela Sarisariñama tepui GoogleEarthlocation in quartzite
Naré sinkhole 150 m 120 m 310 m Papua New Guinea New Britain, Nakanaï Mountains GoogleEarthlocation At the bottom Vaisseau Fantôme river (Flying Dutchman river), L=2,000 m
KarstTeeq 1,000 m 750 m 250 m Oman Dhofar Governorate GoogleEarthlocation bowl-like shape but really huge
Sima Martel - Sima Menor 155 m 110 m 248 m Venezuela Sarisariñama tepui GoogleEarthlocation in quartzite
KarstTawi Ateer 130 m 90 m 210 m Oman Dhofar Governorate GoogleEarthlocation steep walls
Velika Dolina 300 m 170 m 155 m Slovenia Primorska GoogleEarthLage The ntrance to the ShowcaveSkocjanske Jame (Skocjan Caves) is the Great Doline.
KarstLa dolina Pozzatina 650 m 380 m 100 m Italy Puglia GoogleEarthlocation the hugest doline you can see in Europe
KarstPulo di Altamura 530 m 430 m 85 m Italy Puglia GoogleEarthlocation actually not deep enough, but quite impressive
Black Hole of Andros 310 m 270 m 47 m Bahamas South Andros GoogleEarthlocation black holes contain black water with bacteria which produce heat