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A sinkhole, also known as a cenote, sink, sink-hole, shakehole, swallet, swallow hole, or doline , is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. Some are caused by karst processes—for example, the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks or suffosion processes. Sinkholes vary in size from 1 to 600 m both in diameter and depth, and vary in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms. Sinkholes may form gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide. On 2 July 2015, scientists reported that active pits, related to sinkhole collapses and possibly associated with outbursts, were found on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Rosetta space probe.
Sinkholes may capture surface drainage from running or standing water, but may also form in high and dry places in specific locations.

The formation of sinkholes involves natural processes of erosion or gradual removal of slightly soluble bedrock by percolating water, the collapse of a cave roof, or a lowering of the water table. Sinkholes often form through the process of suffosion. For example, groundwater may dissolve the carbonate cement holding the sandstone particles together and then carry away the lax particles, gradually forming a void.

Occasionally a sinkhole may exhibit a visible opening into a cave below. In the case of exceptionally large sinkholes, such as the Minyé sinkhole in Papua New Guinea or Cedar Sink at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, an underground stream or river may be visible across its bottom flowing from one side to the other.

Sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone or other carbonate rock, salt beds, or in other rocks, such as gypsum, that can be dissolved naturally by circulating ground water. Sinkholes also occur in sandstone and quartzite terrains.

As the rock dissolves, spaces and caverns develop underground. These sinkholes can be dramatic, because the surface land usually stays intact until there is not enough support. Then, a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur. (source : wikipedia)

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