A giant 630 foot deep sinkhole, with an ancient forest at its bottom, has been discovered by Chinese scientists in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China
A cave exploration team discovered the deep giant karst sinkhole in Leye County, according to theXinhua news agency, bringing the number of sinkholes in the county up to 30.
On Friday (May 6), a team ventured into the sinkhole and discovered that there are three cave entrances in the chasm, as well as ancient trees 131 feet (40 m) tall stretching their branches toward the sunlight that filters through the sinkhole entrance.
Zhang Yuanhai, a senior engineer with the Institute of Karst Geology of China Geological Survey, said the sinkhole, located near Ping'e village under Luoxi township, also measures 306 m in length, 150 m in width, with its volume exceeding 5 million cubic metres.
Zhang said that there are three big caves in the wall, which are presumed to be the remains of the early evolution of the sinkhole.
The bottom of the sinkhole has a well-preserved primitive forest with trees growing at the bottom as well as dense shade plants which reach shoulder height.
Giant sinkholes, also known as Tiankeng (heavenly pit) in Chinese, are dolines, or giant pits, with special geological features found in karst regions formed by repeated cave-ins.
They are mainly found in China, Mexico and Papua New Guinea.
The same researchers have previously discovered dozens of sinkholes in Northwest China's Shaanxi province and a cluster of interconnected sinkholes in Guangxi, China Daily reported.
Guangxi is known for its fabulous karst formations, which range from sinkholes to rock pillars to natural bridges and have earned the region UNESCO world heritage site designation.
George Veni, executive director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) in the U.S, sister organisation of the China Geological Survey, said: "Not only do sinkholes and caves offer refuge for life, they are also a conduit to aquifers, or deep stores of underground water. Karst aquifers provide the sole or primary water source for 700 million people worldwide. But they're easily accessed and drained — or polluted.
"Karst aquifers are the only types of aquifers that you can pollute with solid waste.
"I've pulled car batteries and car bodies and barrels of God-knows-what and bottles of God-knows-what out of the active cave stream."
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