SOLUTION CAVERN - Naturally acidic groundwater seeping through cracks in the limestone bedrock dissolves areas of softer rock lying beneath the hard surface crust. Over time, this process creates large undergound caverns roofed with only a thin layer of surface limestone.
YOUNG CENOTE - As erosion continues, this thin roof eventually collapses, leaving an open, water-filled hole.
MATURE CENOTE - Over thousands of years, erosion gradually fills the cenote with organic and mineral debris, reducing its depth. The Cenote of Sacrifice is currently in this stage.
DRY CENOTE - As erosion continues, the cenote may completly fill, becoming a dry, shallow basin supporting trees and other vegetation.