How are cenotes formed?

You may have heard wonders about cenotes, the flora and fauna that inhabit them, and the types that exist, but do you know how cenotes were formed? In this article we explain it to you.

The cenotes, these mythical natural wonders, are geological depressions that are formed as a result of a natural process, and which are then filled with water. Normally, cenotes are interconnected by underground tunnels. These water tunnels give the cenotes unique characteristics.

One of the most striking is that the appearance of the cenotes is similar to that of a lake or well, but their waters behave,

in fact, like those of a river, by the continuous current of the same through the tunnels. This keeps alive Flora and fauna present in its waters, and it also helps to maintain the populations of some completely endemic species. However, their formation was not an event that happened randomly from one day to the next, but rather has a complex and interesting history trapped within its walls.

How are cenotes formed?

Many years ago, the entire area to the southeast of Mexico it was just a Coral reef covered by the waters of the sea; Later, the sea levels fell, which caused this barrier to be exposed, and then die and finally become a dense tropical forest It is in this environment that the rains begin to fall, after the last ice age occurred. , and this rain mixed with the large amounts of carbon dioxide that was in the atmosphere during that time.


This mixture gave rise to carbonic acid, which became even more acidic when it came into contact with the soil where it fell. This had high levels of decomposing organic matter that produced more carbonic acid, so the aggressiveness of the water was really remarkable, then the mixture of salt water with fresh water further increases the aggressiveness of the water on the limestone rock (mainly ), which gradually dissolved it and created holes in it.

Collapses and constructions

Over the years, these holes were expanding their dimensions, generating, simultaneously, tunnels and passages, which created underground water systems very similar to the rivers found on the surface of the earth.

Later, with fluctuations in sea levels, some caves became completely empty, which caused the existing roofs to collapse completely, giving rise to the open cenotes.

As sea levels rise and fall, various materials accumulated after the collapses and dissolutions by carbonic acid, gave rise, in the cenotes, to various natural constructions, such as stalactites, columns and stalagmites.

This whole process is known as “Karst” or relief, and it was what gave rise to these enigmatic water holes on the coasts of Yucatan, which were admired and respected by the ancient Mayan civilization.