**Scientists Uncover Ancient Forest in China’s Leye-Fengshan Global Geopark**

Prepare to be amazed! Scientists have recently made a fascinating discovery in China’s Leye-Fengshan Global Geopark: a massive ancient forest lying 630 feet below the surface of a sinkhole. This geological wonder is located in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China, known for being home to the world’s longest natural bridge and caves, according to UNESCO.

The geopark is primarily composed of sedimentary rocks, specifically Devonian to Permian carbonate rocks, which form an “S”-shaped structure and a rhombus configuration in the karst areas of Leye and Fengshan counties. These geological formations have influenced the development of two large subterranean rivers, namely the Bailang and Poyue, as well as the formation of the Buliuhe River. Alongside these rivers, numerous astonishing karst geosites have emerged, including high karst peak clusters (fengcong), poljes, karst springs, karst windows (tiankengs), natural bridges, extensive caves, massive cave chambers, and speleothems. The geopark also boasts fault zones, minor folds, giant panda fossils, a Neogene stratigraphic section, and other fascinating fossils.

Karst terrain, characterized by its loose soil structure, is responsible for the creation of sinkholes, which can erode both from above and below the surface. In May 2022, scientists stumbled upon a new sinkhole within the geopark, measuring a staggering 630 feet in depth, 490 feet in width, and over 1,000 feet in length.

Within this sinkhole, mature trees and plants thrive, potentially including new species waiting to be documented by science. The enormous space, measuring 1,004 feet long and 492 feet wide, is home to three cave openings that have caught the attention of researchers. Chen Lixin, the leader of the expedition, expressed excitement at the possibility of discovering species within these caves that have not yet been recorded.

Standing among the lush vegetation, some of the trees in the area soar to heights of over 130 feet. George Veni, the director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute, also provided insights into the karst landscape. He noted that this type of terrain, formed by disintegrating bedrock and resulting in sinkholes, can vary greatly depending on factors such as location and temperature.

It is remarkable to learn that this sinkhole marks the thirty-first known opening in the region. Furthermore, China’s pride lies in Xiaozhai Tiankeng, boasting the world’s largest pit. As Veni puts it, China is home to breathtaking karst landscapes featuring enormous sinkholes and grand cave entrances. In other parts of the world, karst formations can be less conspicuous, with sinkholes as small as only a few meters in diameter and cave entrances requiring a tight squeeze to enter.

While the discovery of an ancient forest hidden beneath a sinkhole seems astonishing, experts are not entirely surprised. Southern China’s vast karst landscape naturally harbors many captivating caves and sinkholes. Veni explained that the slightly acidic rainwater in karst environments plays a crucial role in eroding the rock. As rainwater passes through the soil, it absorbs carbon dioxide, increasing the acidity and facilitating the erosion process. Over time, water seeps and flows through the fissures of the bedrock, eventually carving out holes and tunnels. When these subterranean spaces grow large enough, the rock above them collapses, giving way to sinkholes.

This remarkable finding adds another fascinating chapter to the geological history of the region. China’s Leye-Fengshan Global Geopark continues to captivate scientists and adventurers alike with its extraordinary natural wonders. And who knows what other treasures await discovery in this magnificent karst landscape?

Another awe-inspiring natural wonder gaining attention is the Xiaozhai Tiankeng, a massive sinkhole reaching a depth of 2,100 feet, a length of 2,000 feet, and a width of 1,760 feet. Inside, a flowing stream creates a landscape reminiscent of the popular game Minecraft.

Watch the video below to witness the magnificence of this incredible discovery:

Be sure to share this extraordinary finding with your family and friends!