WTF Fun Fact 12685 – A Pristine Forest In A Sinkhole

But there are 30 giant sinkholes throughout China, and explorers who rappelled down into one of them in May of 2022 discovered that nature was hiding something from us – a pristine, ancient forest. In fact, we know so little about this ecosystem that it would very well harbor wildlife we’re never seen before!

The sinkhole is 630 feet deep, 1,004 feet long, and 492 feet wide. Some of the trees inside the sinkhole are 130 feet tall!

While he was not involved in the expedition, George Veni, the executive director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) in the U.S, told Live Science more about these features:

“The discovery is no surprise, Veni told Live Science, because southern China is home to karst topography, a landscape prone to dramatic sinkholes and otherworldly caves. Karst landscapes are formed primarily by the dissolution of bedrock, Veni said. Rainwater, which is slightly acidic, picks up carbon dioxide as it runs through the soil, becoming more acidic. It then trickles, rushes and flows through cracks in the bedrock, slowly widening them into tunnels and voids. Over time, if a cave chamber gets large enough, the ceiling can gradually collapse, opening up huge sinkholes.”

He also said China was an ideal place to find sinkholes with something worthwhile inside: “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.” 

The sinkhole is located in a UNESCO world heritage location in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, near Ping’e village in the county of Leye.

While we don’t usually think of sinkholes as harboring anything special, this one surely did. These giant sinkholes are called a “tiankeng” in Mandarin, meaning “heavenly pit.” –  WTF fun fact

Source: “Giant sinkhole with a forest inside found in China” — Live Science

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