Cenotes: How the underground rivers were formed in the Yucatan Peninsula

The cenotes and subterranean rivers are characteristic natural spaces of the Yucatan Peninsula that are formed thanks to the calcareous soil of the region, which absorbs rainwater by storing it in the subsoil and create the flooded caves that have attracted thousands of tourists every year.

Cenote in Yucatan. Image: Flickr
Cenote in Yucatan. Image: Flickr

The underground rivers connect to the cenotes of the peninsula, which were considered sacred places for the Mayans. Even in several of the sacrifices and offerings were made in exchange for water.

According to the investigations, the origin of the cenotes and underground rivers of the Yucatan Peninsula is related to a meteorite that fell on the Earth, 65 million years ago.

According to studies, the place where the meteorite struck is in the Caribbean Sea, near the Yucatan Peninsula. It is believed the impact was so strong that it left a crater 200 kilometers in diameter and caused the destruction of 75 percent of the life of the planet, including the disappearance of dinosaurs.

After the geological alterations produced by the meteorite, a ring of underground caves joined together, known as the "Ring of Cenotes", was formed, which was the precursor of the current underground rivers and cenotes of Yucatan.

The Yucatan Peninsula has more than 7 thousand cenotes, connected to each other, by underground rivers. Of which, 142 wells are accessible to visitors.

Likewise, this region also has the longest underground river in Mexico, called Ox Bel Ha, with 182 thousand meters in length.

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