Belize’s Lighthouse Reef: Inside the Great Blue Hole
This extraordinary “vertical cave”, known as the Great Blue Hole in Belize is a paradise for divers and photographers. The images taken from the air and beneath the waves provide an insight into a natural wonder. At the same time, scientists currently ponder whether the hole may shed light on the fall of the Mayan civilization.
The origins of the Great Blue Hole
It wasn’t always so blue, or even in the ocean for that matter. Like other sea-holes the Great Blue Hole was actually formed on dry land many aeons ago. When the earth was experiencing a past ice age, sea levels were a lot lower in the region.
The hole formed due to a collapse of the limestone earth, (eroded by seeping water). The end result being a big circular pit that as sea levels rose again, became submerged.
So what did this have to do with the Mayans and their demise?
It has been theorised that the quick decline of the Maya civilization came about through drought.
This makes sense, if the land no longer has enough water to sustain a population they are either forced to move on or they die. However, because the Yucatan Peninsula lacks natural water reserves, it would have been difficult for the Mayans to successfully relocate on mass.
In 2014, sediment samples from the Great Blue Hole showed lower-than-usual deposits of titanium around 800 AD.
This is exactly the time when the Mayans began abandoning their cities.
Titanium deposits erode into the sea by heavy rains. In the absence of larger quantities of titanium it can be deduced that rainfall must have been low at the time. Low enough to bring about the demise of Mayan agriculture.
An interesting theory, however more tests are being conducted at the site in order to know for sure.