Sinkholes, Swalletholes & Cenotes

I’m fascinated by sinkholes, mainly from reading stories about the huge sinkholes that often open up in south america, often suddenly and often fatally devouring anything that happen to be under at the time, design wise they make interesting entry routes into a secondary environment, whether by choice or accidently, there is something mysterious about wondering what lies at the bottom of a sinkhole. Sinkholes are often formed when the roof of limestone cavern collapses due to either natural(springs etc..) or unnatural(leaking sewage pipes) erosion. The caverns themselves are a wonderful complimentary environment for any jungle/forest environment, granting the designer, multiple entry and exit routes around an area.

An Interesting Limestone Cavern Formation Diagram

It was after watching Sanctum, in a particular scene where two of the characters stumble across a Cenote that really was a wow moment for me, the light pouring in, illuminating he trickling rainwater  with the camera switching to a wide angle view illustrating the size of the sinkhole was a true: ‘I want that that in my game environment’ moment.

This amazing natural skylight found in certain limestone caverns, was a very interesting environment design feature: an entry point into the subterranean world/area ,below a forest that almost  serves as a one way route, the characters  look to the cenote as a just out of reach opportunity to save themselves, but alas it wasn’t to be…


Swalletholes, particularly in rivers, are very intriguing , almost hypnotic as  natural bath-plug hole, and again a potential design feature(imagine walking in a game like Skyrim, and observing a whirlpool around a swallet hole in a river, you would almost certainly be drawn to it and investigate….

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