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article imageWorld’s deepest underwater sinkhole found in South China Sea

By Lucky Malicay     Jul 28, 2016 in Science
The blue hole discovered in the South China Sea has been confirmed to be the world’s deepest underwater sinkhole, surpassing the one in the Bahamas by almost 100 meters.
Using the VideoRay Pro 4, an underwater robot carrying a depth sensor, Chinese researchers at the Sansha Ship Course Research Institute for Coral Protection, found out that the blue hole is 300.89 meters deep and has 130-meter-diameter-wide entrance.
The world's most popular small underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), VideoRay Pro 4 is equipped with advanced features such as a depth sensor, 3D tilt compensated compass, accelerometer, real time volt meter, MEMS Gyro, a leak alarm, and an internal temperature gauge.
At a conference on Friday, Sansha institute head Fu Liang said the exploration started in August 2015 and ended in June. The sinkhole is located east of Yongle, a major coral reef on the Xisha Islands.
The upper part of the undersea sinkhole has more than 20 fish species and other marine creatures but researchers found out that life is unlikely underneath since there is no more oxygen below 100 meters.
Long known by the Chinese as Longdong, or the "Dragon Hole," locals call the sinkhole the "eye" of the South China Sea. In the "Journey to the West," a 16th-century Chinese classic, the sinkhole is the site where the golden cudgel, the weapon used by the hero in the novel, came from.
A panel of Chinese experts recognized the discovery with team head Meng Wei, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, saying blue holes are important for marine research.
The panel recommended for the sinkhole’s inclusion in the five-year marine protection plan that the government is drafting.
"We will strive to protect the natural legacy left by the Earth," said Sansha City Vice Mayor Xu Zhifei.
At 202 meters, the Dean's Blue Hole in the Bahamas has been previously known as the deepest blue hole in the world. Located west of Clarence Town, it is where the Freediving World Record was set almost a decade ago.
According to the MailOnline, the South China Sea sinkhole is nearly the same height as The Shard, a 1,003-foot-tall London skyscraper considered as the tallest building in the United Kingdom.
Blue holes are formed when carbonate rock like limestone dissolves over long periods of time in the subsurface.
"Eventually, the process of dissolution causes the cave to reach very close to the Earth's surface, and if the cave ceiling collapses, a blue hole or sinkhole is formed," Pete van Hengstum told Live Science.
But the South China Sea’s “Dragon Hole” is not the deepest sinkhole recently found in China. In February, Chinese and French scientists uncovered a giant 420-meter deep underground sinkhole in the Guangxi region.
The world's largest sinkhole is also found in China, in the Chongqing Municipality. Located at the top of the Yangtze River, the 'Xiaozhai Doline' is 660 meters deep.
More about China, Sinkhole, Blue Hole, underwater sinkhole, South china sea
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