Deep inside a sinkhole in China’s Leye-Fengshan Global Geopark, 630 feet below the surface, scientists have found a huge old forest.
Better sit tight before seeing what’s inside!
UNESCO describes the area as having caves and the longest natural bridge in the world. It is in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
On its website, UNESCO says, “The UNESCO Global Geopark is primarily sedimentary with more than 60 percent of 3000m thick Devonian to Permian carbonate rocks.”
“It forms an ‘S’-shaped structure and a rhombus configuration in the karst areas of Leye and Fengshan counties respectively, which controlled two large subterranean rivers’ development, the Bailang and Poyue.”
“In addition, between these two subterranean rivers the Buliuhe River was formed. Around these rivers, it formed numerous karst geosites including high karst peak clusters (fengcong), poljes, karst springs, karst windows (tiankengs), natural bridges, extensive caves, massive cave chambers and speleothems.”
“It also features fault zones, minor folds, giant panda fossils, a Neogene stratigraphic section and other fossils.
“The UNESCO Global Geopark clearly displays the developmental stages of tiankengs and high fengcong karst. It contains the world’s most beautiful karst windows, the highest density of tiankengs and largest cave chambers known in the world and the world’s longest natural bridges.”
Karst is a type of land where the soil can break down, causing sinkholes from erosion from above or below the surface.
In May 2022, scientists found a new sinkhole in the park. It is more than 1,000 feet long, 490 feet wide, and almost 630 feet deep.
Many old trees and plants live in this sinkhole. Some of them may be types that haven’t been found before.
Scientists have found three cave openings inside the huge area, which is 1,004 feet long and 492 feet wide.
According to Chen Lixin, the leader of the expedition, “It wouldn’t surprise me if we find species in these caves that science hasn’t yet documented.”
He said that some of the trees in the bush were very tall—more than 130 feet.
They also talked to George Veni, who is in charge of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute.
He said that karst terrain, which is made up of bedrock that is breaking down and creating sinkholes, can be very different depending on location, temperature, and other factors.
“In China you have this incredibly spectacular karst with enormous sinkholes and giant cave entrances and so forth.”
“In other parts of the world you walk out on the karst and you really don’t notice anything. Sinkholes might be quite subdued, only a meter or two in diameter.”
“Cave entrances might be very small, so you have to squeeze your way into them.”
The professional wasn’t too surprised by the finding, even though it looks amazing. Because southern China has a large karst landscape, it naturally has a lot of amazing sinkholes and mysterious caves.
He said that in a karst setting, the slightly acidic rainwater is what breaks down the rock.
As rainwater runs through the ground, it takes in carbon dioxide, which makes the soil more acidic.
After that, the water seeps and runs through the cracks in the bedrock, making tunnels and holes over time.
When these spaces below ground get big enough, the rock above them gives way, making a sinkhole.
This is the 30th known opening in the area, which is pretty amazing. China is also proud to have Xiaozhai Tiankeng, which is home to the world’s biggest pit.
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This huge sinkhole is 2,100 feet deep, 2,000 feet long, and 1,760 feet wide. It has a stream inside, which makes it look like something from the game Minecraft.
Watch the video below:
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