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14 amazing sinkholes

By: Laura Moss on Dec. 6, 2016, 4:26 p.m.
a sinkhole in Israel's abandoned tourist resort of Ein Gedi on the shore of the Dead Sea

Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

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Famous pits

Some of the world's most famous sinkholes are seemingly endless pits that swallow trees, cars and entire buildings — dangerously altering the landscape. Others fill with water, becoming popular swimming holes and offering unique photo opportunities.

In the strictly geological sense, sinkholes occur when water erodes solid bedrock, creating an underground cavity that collapses inward. However, the term can be used in a broader sense to describe any sudden slump of the Earth's surface. Regardless of how you define them, these massive holes — like this one in an abandoned tourist resort on the Dead Sea in Israel — capture our curiosity with the mysteries of their bottomless depths.

Editor's note: This file was originally published in October 2010 and has been updated with new information.