It’s not just a sinkhole, it’s an entire ecosystem! In a recently discovered sinkhole in China, scientists made an amazing discovery – an impressive variety of ancient plants and trees are thriving inside the enormous cavernous depths. Of course, this also indicates a further possibility – the existence of previously unknown species!
Cave explorers discovered the 630 ft deep enormous sinkhole on May 6 in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region’s Leye County in China. The sinkhole measured 1,004 Ft in length and 492 Ft in width. Inside, they discover 3 cave entrances.
Chen Lixin, the leader of an expedition into the sinkhole, said that he would not find it surprising if the sinkhole is home to species that science has not seen so far. To add to that, some trees inside the sinkhole’s forest are almost 130 Ft tall.
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How Do The Area For The Ancient Forests Form?
Sinkholes can be formed due to Karst – a terrain that features dissolving bedrock. The National Cave and Karst Research Insititutes’ executive director George Veni explained how China features extremely visual and spectacular karst. The country, thus, has quite a few similar gigantic sinkholes and cave entrances.
China is special in that it is difficult to notice such features in the karst anywhere else in the world. After all, sinkholes can also be as small as 1-2m wide. Similarly, cave entrances are usually quite small, making them dangerous places to enter.
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Veni was not surprised by the discovery either since he knows that Southern China has an immense karst topography. As such, it is completely possible for such otherworldly caves and dramatic sinkholes to exist.
Veni also explains that everything begins when acidic rainwater begins to dissolve the karst’s bedrock. As the water travels through the ground soil, it absorbs carbon dioxide and becomes more acidic. Finally, the water starts to trickle through the bedrock’s cracks. With time and gradual erosion, the water flows freely and hollows the area into voids and tunnels. After the chambers reach a certain size, the ceiling collapses due to lack of support thus forming a sinkhole.
China has the world’s largest sinkhole and the recent one makes the 30th sinkhole in that region. The largest one is 1760 ft wide, 2100 ft deep, and 2000 ft long and is situated in Xiaozhai Tiankeng. It is so large that it has a waterfall inside it.
A whole new world, right?
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