Whether they were punched into the planet by the forces of nature, or engineered by humans to penetrate the Earth … There’s no denying that the formations on our list are weirdly impressive … and maybe even a bit frightening! From asteroids creating huge impact craters, to a borehole drilled more than 7 miles into the Earth’s crust … Here are 16 of the weirdest holes in the Earth!
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#4 Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory, Antarctica
It has nothing to do with the rapper-actor Ice Cube, but it could make for a cool album title. You’ll find this project at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, where 60 digital optical modules are supported by some 86 cables that reach below the ice. From depths approaching 1.5 miles (8000 feet), the modules relay information all the way back to the surface. The holes for the cables were drilled during summertime on the Southern hemisphere. Over the course of 7 years, a hot water hose weighing some 25,000 pounds was used to blast open those holes, melting around 200,000 gallons of water per opening.
#3 Monticello Dam
Rising more than 300 feet, this dam in California’s Napa Valley is noted for its spillway, which measures around 72 feet in diameter … by some accounts it is the largest such hole in the world. When the reservoir is operating at peak capacity, the spillway is used to drain the excess water … at a rate exceeding 48,000 cubic feet of water every second. The spillway narrows from 72 feet to around 28 feet in diameter … meaning that anyone brave (or foolish) enough to jump in would be shot out in a jetstream at the dam’s bottom. For the record, we don’t advise anyone trying this. But as you can see in the pictures, when the spillway is in operation, it makes for a cool (if pretty bizarre) sight.
#2 Impact Craters
These distinctive circular depressions are created when smaller space debris like asteroids slam into planets or moons, and are formed from that hypervelocity impact. And they can be huge. Vredefort Crater is the largest impact crater verified so far on Earth … it was the result of one of the largest asteroids that has ever struck the planet. Experts think the asteroid could have measured more than 9 miles in diameter! Located in South Africa, the crater is believed to have measured some 186 miles across when it was formed over 2 billion years ago. At that age, Vredefort is actually the second oldest known crater on Earth. So which impact crater is the oldest? Our sources indicate that would be the Suavjarvi Crater (swar-vee-ARE-vee) located in Russia. It’s believed to have been formed more than 2.4 billion years ago when a massive asteroid struck the planet. While little of the crater has actually survived to the present, a lake measuring around 3 kilometers wide can be found in the center of the crater. Some other impressive impact craters include the Sudbury Crater in Canada … it measures more than 80 miles wide and is more than 1.8 billion years old. And the Chicxulub (cheeks-oo-loob) Crater in Mexico had an original diameter of some 150 miles … Did you know its discovery clinched the theory that a meteor impact helped wipe out the dinosaurs?
#1 Kola Superdeep Borehole
Using the term ‘superdeep’ for this hole is no hyperbole. Located on Russia’s Kola Peninsula, it’s the result of a scientific project intended to drill as deep as possible into the crust of the Earth. The operation commenced in 1970 … by 1989, one of the drilling rigs had bored a hole into the Earth that penetrated in excess of 40,000 feet into the planet! To date, this is still considered to be the deepest artificially created point on Earth. Operations were shut down after temperatures exceeding 350 degrees Fahrenheit made it impossible for the gear to function properly at those extreme depths. Did you know that even though the borehole extends more than 7.5 miles, it measures a mere 9 inches in diameter. After it was abandoned in 2008, the hole was sealed shut.