In China’s Leye-Fengshan World Geopark, 630 feet below the surface of a sinkhole, is discovered an amazing ancient forest. China’s Guangxi province is home to this geopark.
The Zhuang Autonomous Area has been recognized by UNESCO for its unique geological features.
Numerous karst formations, such as large cave systems, natural bridges, and caverns, may be seen inside the geopark. It is mostly composed of carbonate rocks from the Devonian to the Permian, and it is sedimentary. There are poljes, karst springs, karst windows (tiankengs), natural bridges, massive cave chambers, and speleothems, among other intriguing geological features. High karst peak clusters, or fengcong, are another feature.
In May 2022, geologists found a new sinkhole in the geopark that measures approximately 1,000 feet long, 490 feet wide, and nearly 630 feet deep. Within this massive sinkhole, numerous ancient trees and plants were discovered, some of which might have been previously undiscovered species.
Within this massive sinkhole, the researchers found three cave openings that provide a unique habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. According to Chen Lixin, the expedition’s commander, these caves might contain species that scientists haven’t yet been able to identify.
Karst landscapes, which are typified by sinkholes and caverns, appear differently depending on a number of factors, including location and temperature. This geopark is situated in the southern region of China, and the karst environment there is especially striking, with massive sinkholes and wide cave mouths. On the other hand, karst rocks found in other parts of the world could include smaller, less noticeable sinkholes and cave opening.
In karst terrain, sinkhole development is partially attributed to the dissolution of bedrock by slightly acidic precipitation. Rainwater absorbs carbon dioxide from the earth and turns more acidic as it percolates through. Then, as this acidic water gradually hollows out tunnels and chambers, it leaks through fractures in the bedrock. When these underground cavities become large enough, the surrounding rock falls, creating sinkholes.
China’s karst landscape is home to geological wonders, such as the recently discovered sinkhole and the 30th known opening in the area. China is also home to Xiaozhai Tiankeng, the world’s largest sinkhole. With a stream running through it, it is 2,100 feet deep, 2,000 feet long, and 1,760 feet wide, reminiscent of a scenario from the popular computer game Minecraft.
The value of preserving these unique geological structures and the undiscovered natural beauty of our planet are highlighted by the finding of this forest inside the sinkhole.