Intro to Cenotes
A gigantic network of passages, canals, fissures and caverns runs through the limestone soil of the Yucatan Peninsula. Experts consider it to be the world’s largest continuous cave system. It stretches over hundreds of kilometers – even until today, nobody knows exactly how long it is (and that’s the beauty of it).
Did you know: Cenote Zacaton north east of Mexico, is the deepest in the world. A scuba diver robot, the DepthX2 explored and mapped it. It reached its bottom at 318 meters depth.
Cenote means a natural pit, or a sinkhole created by a collapse which exposed the groundwater underneath. The word Cenote itself comes from the Yucatec Mayan word dzonot or ts’onot meaning: “Well”. They are found mainly in North and Central America, and specifically in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico where you can find them in the middle of the jungle as well as in the middle of the cities like Valladolid. Mexico has the chance to have world largest concentration of Cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula resulting to become The Mecca for the cave diving in the world.
Start exploring another dimension, enter the new world – below the surface, below the ground. Enjoy cenotes at its best.
Creation of Cenotes
To fully understand how Cenotes have been created you’ll need to pass trough hundreds millions of years. But don’t worry, we will try to summarize it for you.
The Yucatan Peninsula is a limestone platform that was formed 550 million years ago. Through years of ice age, the sea level has varied, and often this region came under the oceans. Proof is that we can often see fossilized sea shells in Cenotes. The Yucatan platform being under water, its limestone allowed water to infiltrate it. When sea levels lowered, the caves were formed: the heavy rain falling on these formations took with them carbonic acid soil and decaying leaves. It dug brittle rock and created underground passages in which water made its way to find the sea. In his very long process, were formed stalactites, stalagmites and all the speleothems decorating the places.
The meteorite theory
In Yucatán, a Cenotes ring is concentrically arranged around the Chicxulub crater; that is why they impute their training at the impact of a meteorite measuring 10 km of diameter. This meteorite is the one which supposedly caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 millions of years ago. The shock wave of the meteorite would have created some lines of weakness or cracks which would have helped in creating the Cenotes ring concentrically arranged around the Chicxulub crater.
Halocline is the precise layer where the fresh water and the salt water are meeting. If you stay above it you will have the feeling to literally fly over a river or a lake
Sulfur cloud is a layer of Hydrogen Sulfide, which is formed by the bacterial decomposition of organic material that has fallen into the cenote. A feeling to fly in the sky and play with the clouds
Stalactite comes from the Greek stalasso,”to drip” and is a mineral formation in caves. It is an icicle-shaped formation that hangs from the ceiling of a cave and is produced by precipitation of minerals from water dripping through the cave ceiling. Most stalactites have pointed tips
Stalagmites are the ground-up counterparts of stalactites
Cenote Escondido, Tulum
Ik-Kil Cenote, Chichen Itza
Stalagmites of cenote
Cenote through out history
Cenote where taking a very important place into the Mayan culture. The Mayans believed these wells as a means of communication with the gods of the infra- world, the chasm representing a mouth he represented the windows on the “beyond”, and a key to later life. They used them as reserves of fresh water ( no surface fresh water in the Yucatan Peninsula ), but also as a place of worship in which offerings were thrown or sacrificial victims . “One of the most famous rituals was called Chen Ku , which was to sacrifice human beings in its waters , such as the well-known case of the sacred cenote of Chichen Itza .
In some caves, there are still some remains of ritual ceremonies in honor of the “Gods of the Underworld”
But before them, Cenotes also represented secure places for different animals and humanoids which luckily left some remainings for the divers and ok also for archeologist and other scientifics.
inhabitants of cenotes
Sailfin Molly fish
Cenote Molly fish
Mojarra Maya fish
Mayan Goby fish
Mesoamerican slider turtle
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