Cave explorers in South China recently stumbled upon an ancient forest at the bottom of a sinkhole. The 192 metre (630 feet) deep sinkhole has been protecting an ancient forest as big as three football fields in length. Trees in this ancient forest can touch heights of 40 metres (130 feet).
Chinese government says that it is one of the 30 giant sinkholes in the county. In the local language, sinkholes are called “Tiankeng” which roughly translates into “Heavenly pit.” This sinkhole is the largest in this county – 306 metres long, 150 metres wide, and 192 metres deep.
What do we know about the sinkhole forest?
This sinkhole was found by cave explorers outside Ping’e vilalge in Leye County in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. On May 6, explorers touched base on the pit and found ancient trees and plants, a Guangxi press release said.
In conversation with state news agency Xinhua, Zhang Yuanhai, a senior engineer at the Institute of Karst Geology of the China Geological Survey claimed that the sinkhole had three caves in its walls along with a well-preserved primitive forest at the bottom.
“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,” said Chen Lixin, leader of the expedition team that trekked for hours to reach the sinkhole’s base.
A giant sinkhole with an ancient forest inside found in China
A team of Chinese scientists has discovered a giant new sinkhole with a forest at its bottom. The sinkhole is 630 feet deep, according to the Xinhua news agency. pic.twitter.com/Qlv7dgg0NU
— Archaeology News (@Archaeology_Mag) May 16, 2022
Any landscape formed by sinkhole is called a karst landscape, which is formed when bedrock dissolves into groundwater. This implies that such regions have a series of sinkholes and caves. This particular cave is rare, though, for even with its depth, there is enough light to allow the growth of trees.
Jones, Dustin (May, 2022). Scientists discover an ancient forest inside a giant sinkhole in China. NPR.
Horton, H. (2022, May 20). Ancient forest found at bottom of huge sinkhole in China. The Guardian.