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