WATCH: Giant Northern Cape sink hole reveals underworld wonders, closes R31

2017-01-20 08:40
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Cape Town - A newly formed sink hole in the Northern Cape on Mount Carmel farm along the R31 between Daniëlskuil and Kuruman has intrigued cavers from around the country - and with good reason. 

The cave, which was formed about two weeks ago following heavy downpours in the area, was recently explored for the first time in history, revealing a underworld wonderland.

Videographer Hendrik van Hunks took drone footage of the hole and posted it to Facebook, estimating the fissure appears to be about 300m long. 

What lies beneath the surface, however, has been established to be also much larger that what the crack appears from from the outside. 

The definition of a sink hole is described as a cavity in the ground, especially in a limestone formation, caused by water erosion and providing a route for surface water to disappear underground - with some ascribing this to soil erosion due to underground waters. 

However the region recently received heavy rains that lead to flooding in the area - heavy rainfall and flooding rivers were recorded in the  Kalahari Desert region in the Northern Cape, crossing over into Namibia. 

WATCH: Northern Cape, Free State, Eastern Cape flood after heavy rain

Road permanently closed 

Residents in the Northern Cape town of Kuruman first took to social media to expressing their concerns with the sinkhole that has formed so close to the road.

When a second depression close to the road was recorded last Thursday, 12 January, the road was permanently closed by the Department of Roads & Public Works. 


This is drone footage filmed by Hendrik van Hunks of the sink hole that is threatening to swallow the road R31 in South Africa North Cape. 

Underground wonderworld discovered in caves  - Click here to see the Netwerk24's images

Upon hearing of the tear in the earth's surface, two South African spelunkers Karin Human en Gerrie Pretorius headed to the scene to explore the new under-earth territory for themselves. 

The pair explored the three newest formations, right at the side of the R31.

"I climb about 4-metres down into the first hole in the ground," Karin told Netwerk24. She said the sink holes are different to what they appear on the photographs - "they are shallower, and a second shower of rain has flushed open the large dolomite ridge much wider that the first crack in the earth."  

She said she was able to explore a narrow passage way inside of the cave, and found that the cave walls were smooth in texture. "Almost like boulders in a river - there were no sharp edges. At a few places against the boulders, there were extraordinary crystals that are thousands of years old." 

Karin was also able to enter through a very narrow passageway that Gerrie was unable to pass through. Here, she discovered a large chamber with another crack through which to pass. This horizontal tear led her to another passageway of about 1-metre wide. 

According to the discoverers, there is flowing water in the cave. But an absence on flooding or stationery water point to another reservoir further down. 

The spelunkers say they will be doing further explorations and a topographic access in the future. 


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