Ancient Forest Found in a 630-Foot Sinkhole

Andrei Tapalaga

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The interior of this sinkhole is 1,004 feet long and 492 feet wide@NineDragons2/Twitter

The world has been surprised by a discovery made earlier this month. A new sinkhole has been discovered in Southern China 630 feet deep. This is not very surprising as sinkholes of this size are quite common within the Southern part of China, but this sinkhole houses a huge forest with ancient trees as tall as 131 feet

A research team went deep into the sinkhole to discover not only how deep it goes, but what hides inside. To their surprise, the forest which has been growing for thousands of years spreads into three cave systems. Such sinkholes are created by the dissolution of bedrock. This is caused by the acid within Rainwater which over a long period of time (thousands of years) can eat away bedrock. 

George Veni, the executive director of the National Cae and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) is an international expert on caves describes why the climate down in these sinkholes can be very different from what is present at surface level: 

“Because of local differences in geology, climate and other factors, the way karst appears at the surface can be dramatically different. So 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.” (Quote by George Veni)

The expedition team had shared some amazing photos of what it looks like from the bottom of the sinkhole. 

Chen Lixin, leader of the Guangxi 702 cave expedition team who made the discovery described the forest inside the sinkhole as a world lost in time, untouched by humanity. 

“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,” (Quote by Chen Lixin)

The interior of this sinkhole is 1,004 feet long and 492 feet wide, based on the analysis done by the research team. Most of the sinkhole’s surface is taken by vegetation which is most predominant in China, according to experts in Karst Geology

More expeditions are to be followed to analyze if any new species of plants or even animals inhabit the forgotten world inside this sinkhole. 

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