Mysterious sinkhole opens up in Chile. No one knows how it formed

The Earth is always going through a churning and a new mysterious structure is raising the curiosity of geologists worldwide. A mysterious sinkhole that formed in Chile late last week is the latest to garner global headlines.

Nearly 656 feet from top to bottom, the sinkhole has formed unannounced in the mining town of Tierra Amarilla. While the sinkhole is likely growing, an investigation into how it performed has been launched by the Chilean government. The National Geology and Mining Service estimates that the diameter is about 82 feet wide.

A 100-meter security perimeter has been erected around the hole in the Tierra Amarilla municipality, near the Alcaparrosa mine, which is operated by the Canadian firm Lundin Mining. The company said in a statement there had been “no impact to personnel, equipment or infrastructure,” and the sinkhole has remained stable since its detection.

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The sinkhole appeared in an area about 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles) north of Santiago, and as a preventive measure, development work in an area of the Alcaparrosa underground mine has been temporarily suspended. It is worth mentioning that Chile is the world’s largest copper producer, responsible for a quarter of the global supply.

A 100-metre security perimeter has been erected around the hole which appeared in the Tierra Amarilla municipality. (Photo: AFP)

“There is a considerable distance, approximately 200 meters (656 feet), to the bottom. We haven’t detected any material down there, but we have seen the presence of a lot of water,” David Montenegro, Director of the National Service of Geology and Mining said in a statement.

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The closest home to the sinkhole is more than 600 meters (1,969 feet) away while any populated area or public service is almost a kilometer away from the affected zone, making it easier for authorities to investigate the mysterious structure.

Cristian Zuniga, mayor of the Tierra Amarilla municipality of some 13,000 inhabitants, told journalists the sinkhole was unprecedented. “We ask that the cause be clarified: whether the collapse is the product of mining activity or something else,” he said.

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