Environmental Science

A Vast Sinkhole, Home to an Ancient Forest, Has Been Discovered In China

A Vast Sinkhole, Home to an Ancient Forest, Has Been Discovered In China

In the isolated woodlands of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a massive sinkhole was uncovered, replete with a “well-preserved primeval forest” at the bottom. According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, a team from the China Geological Survey’s Institute of Karst Geology discovered the karst sinkhole in Leye County, which is 306 meters long, 150 meters wide, and 192 meters deep.

Initially, satellite photos suggested that a sinkhole may be hiding within this highly wooded region of China. Researchers went deep into Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to view the geological formation for them to confirm its presence. To reach the bottom of the sinkhole, the expedition crew abseiled down more than 100 meters (328 ft) and trekked for many hours. They observed thick overgrowth as high as a person’s shoulders, as well as “old trees” reaching 40 meters (131 feet) in height.

According to Live Science, Chen Lixin, the cave expedition team’s leader, said, “I wouldn’t be shocked if there are species found in these caverns that have never been recognized or characterized by science till now.” The sinkhole may be seen in the video.

In China, giant sinkholes are referred to as tiankeng, which roughly translates to “heavenly pit.” Rainwater that is somewhat acidic drains into the soil, slowly dissolving the soluble bedrock, creating these deep subterranean caves. Winding subterranean tunnels and caves may grow under the ground with enough time. When the upper “ceiling” gets too thin and fragile to support it, it caves in, exposing the subterranean void. Sinkholes are common in this section of China due to its karst geology. At least 29 more comparable sinkholes may be found in Leye County, which is known as the “tiankeng capital of the world.”

A gaping sinkhole leads to a massive “world-class” cave hall deep in the hazy valleys of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. A combined Chinese-UK mission examined the massive underground hall for the second time earlier this month. According to BBC News, the crew used a single 200-meter (656-foot) rope to descend into the newly discovered cave hall and began exploring the 6.7-million-cubic-meter (236-million-cubic-foot) cavern. The cave’s inside is quite lovely, with pure blue waters, crumbled rock, and other geological phenomena, as shown in footage from Chinese media (below).