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"Geologically Impossible": The Strange Story Of Mel's Supposedly Bottomless Hole

In the late 90s, a man named Mel rang a radio talk show with an unusual tale to tell.

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

Edited by Holly Large
Holly Large - Editorial Assistant

Holly Large

Jr Copy Editor & Staff Writer

Holly is a graduate medical biochemist with an enthusiasm for making science interesting, fun and accessible.

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A big sinkhole in the ground

A sinkhole of the usual bottomed kind.

Image credit: Poliorketes/Shutterstock.com

On February 21, 1997, a man calling himself Mel Waters rang the late-night radio talk show "Coast to Coast with Art Bell" with a very strange story to tell.

According to Waters, on his property, around 14 kilometers (9 miles) west of Ellensburg, Washington, there was a hole that seemingly had no bottom. Waters told the host that locals would toss their garbage into the hole (the first thing you're supposed to do when you find an anomaly of scientific interest) and it would never fill up. 

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He went on to claim that, investigating the matter, he had gotten an absurd amount of fishing line to dangle into the hole in an attempt to assess its depth. 

"As usual I brought the dogs with me... they wouldn't go anywhere near the damn thing," he told the show, "and if I try to bring them there on a leash they'll just dig their feet and they do not want to go anywhere near the hole."

Dangling the line in, he claimed it reached down over 24,000 meters (80,000 feet) without reaching the bottom.

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The Earth's crust, on land, is variable. On average it is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) thick, though under mountain ranges it can reach as much as 100 kilometers (62 miles). If Water's claim were true, the hole would go deeper into the crust than any human-made hole has ever reached into the Earth. 

That title goes to the Kola Superdeep Borehole, on the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia. The project, which spanned from May 24, 1970, to just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, saw the deepest branch of the hole reach 12,263 meters (40,230 feet) below the surface. 

It seems unlikely that somebody stumbled across a deeper hole without anybody really knowing about it, but Waters' strange testimony didn't end there. According to him, the hole had other mysterious properties, including bringing dogs back from the dead. On the show, he claimed that a local resident threw a dead pet into the hole, only for it to show up alive again later on with a hunter. The dog, having been through a lot, did not come back to its "owner".

Other bizarre claims included that radios placed near it would play old music, while metals held near the hole would morph into other substances.

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The urban legend spread, and others claimed that they had seen the hole too, though none of them would ever reveal an exact location. Of course, this is likely because the tale is nonsense. Waters went on to claim that the government had forced him to lease them the land the hole was on with no explanation, which gave him the money to move to Australia.

Investigations showed there were no records of Waters in the area, nor his wife working at the university where she supposedly procured the fishing line. People have looked for the hole itself, but have presented no evidence of its existence.

The hole, likely a hoax or the passing on of an urban legend, could not exist as it is described, even before you get to the "and it brings dogs back from the dead" aspect.

"Geologically and physically, it’s not possible for a hole to be that deep," Jack Powell, a geologist with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, who had been asked about the hole by local filmmakers, told Daily Record News. "It would collapse into itself under the tremendous pressure and heat from the surrounding strata."

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Powell believes the legend was sparked by a local gold mine that had its entrance in a local field, with a shaft of around 27 meters (90 feet). Which, though deep, is hardly what we'd call bottomless.


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  • tag
  • borehole,

  • Kola Superdeep Borehole,

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