Recent findings suggest the massive sinkhole off the coast of Belize known (quite logically) as the Great Blue Hole may hold the key to solving the mysterious end of the Maya civilization.
As the Huffington Post reports, groups from Rice University and Louisiana State University found that the sinkhole, a popular scuba-diving site, contains evidence that the Yucatan peninsula may have faced two massive droughts, leading to the inevitable "famine and unrest."
The researchers analyzed sediment samples from the Blue Hole, looking specifically at variations in color, grain size, and layer thickness. They also examined samples from the Belize Central Shelf Lagoon, a body of water attached to the mainland, noting differences in the samples' ratio of titanium to aluminum, which helps provide an estimate for rainfall levels.
The analyses revealed low levels of precipitation and a drop in the frequency of tropical cyclones from 800 to 900 A.D. in the Yucatan peninsula — which suggests the region was hit by a major drought at the time, The research also suggested that another major drought hit the region between 1000 and 1100 AD, around when the Maya city of Chichen Itza is believed to have fallen.
Read the full scientific paper at Scientific Reports via Nature.com.
Image by Elswhere on Flickr via Atlas Obscura.