A sinkhole in Chile has doubled in size, becoming large enough to engulf France’s Arc de Triomphe, prompting authorities to order a halt to work at a nearby copper mine.
The sinkhole, which appeared on July 30, now spans 160 feet and has gone down 656 feet. Seattle’s Space Needle would also fit comfortably in a black hole, as would six Christ the Redeemer statues in Brazil stacked head-to-head, giant arms outstretched.
The National Service of Geology and Mining said late Saturday it was investigating the gaping hole near the Alcaparosa mine, operated by Canadian company Lundin Mining LUN.TO, about 413 miles north of Santiago.
In addition to ordering a halt to all work, the Geology and Mines Service said it was beginning a “permitting process”. The agency did not provide details on what that action would entail.
Lundin did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company said last week that the hole did not affect workers or community members and that it was working to determine the cause.
Lundin owns 80% of the assets and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation holds the rest.
Initially, the hole near the town of Tierra Amarilla was about 82 feet across, with water visible at the bottom.
The Geology and Mines Service said it had installed dewatering pumps at the mine and that the mine’s underground chambers would be inspected over the next few days for possible overburden.
Local officials have expressed concern that the Alcaparosa mine could flood underground and destabilize the surrounding land. It will be “something completely normal,” Tierra Amarilla Mayor Cristobal Zuniga told local media.