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Huge ancient forest world discovered 630 feet down sinkhole in China

Huge ancient forest world discovered 630 feet down sinkhole in China

They're located at a geopark in China that you can actually visit

There is a huge ancient forest world that scientists discovered 630 feet down sinkhole in a Chinese 'geopark', where the phenomenon is surprisingly common - and absolutely stunning.

Leye-Fengshan Global Geopark is located in China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with UNESCO describing the site as a 'territory of caves and of the world’s longest natural bridge'.

"The UNESCO Global Geopark is primarily sedimentary with more than 60 percent of 3000m thick Devonian to Permian carbonate rocks," the UNESCO website explains.

"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.

A giant karst sinkhole at Leye-Fengshan Global Geopark.

"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 terrain that's dissolving bedrock can result in sinkholes, thanks to landscape eroding from above or below ground.

The latest sinkhole at the park was found by experts in May 2022, measuring over 1,000 feet in length, 490 feet in width and nearly 630 feet in depth.

Another example of a karst in Hubei Province.

It contains a load of ancient trees and plants that could well include some species that have never been discovered before.

Scientists found three cave entrances inside the 1,004 feet long and 492 feet wide void.

Speaking to Live Science, expedition leader Chen Lixin said: “I wouldn’t be surprised to know that there are species found in these caves that have never been reported or described by science until now."

He added that some the trees found in the forest were nearly 130 foot tall.

George Veni, the executive director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute, told Live Science that differences in geology, climate and other factors meant that karst – a terrain that's dissolving bedrock can result in such sinkholes – can be dramatically different depending on where it is.

"In China you have this incredibly visually 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.”

Leye-Fengshan Global Geopark

He was also unsurprised at the discovery, although there's no doubt it looks jaw-dropping. According to the expert, because southern China is home to such vast karst topography, its landscape is prone to dramatic sinkholes and otherworldly caves. He explained that it's slightly acidic rainwater that begins the process of dissolving the bedrock in a karst landscape.

It picks up carbon dioxide as it runs through the soil, which makes it more acidic. It then trickles, rushes and flows through cracks in the bedrock, which in turns eventually hollows them out into tunnels and voids.

Once these holes or chambers become large enough, the ceiling will collapse and form a sinkhole.

Incredibly, this is the 30th sinkhole to have been discovered in the region – and China can also boast being the home to the largest sinkhole in the world.

Located in Xiaozhai Tiankeng, the sinkhole there is 2,100 feet deep, 2,000 feet long and 1,760 feet wide and includes a waterfall within its depths, leaving it looking like something out of Minecraft.

Featured Image Credit: Xinhua

Topics: World News