Below a sinkhole, the ancient trees stretch to a height of about 130 feet. Dense vegetation covers the soil and grows a rare type of bamboo.
George Wayne, executive director of the New Mexico-based National Cave and Karst Research Institute, said the discovery was less surprising than people expected.
“It’s not uncommon for trees to grow from cave entrances,” said Veni, who was not involved in the new study. “It simply came to our notice then [sinkhole] Especially big and especially deep, so this is not what most people would expect. “
Huge sinkholes are common in this part of China, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These are a feature of some karst landscapes and when groundwater dissolves the bedrock, causing the roof of a cave chamber to collapse. Large sinkholes are known in Chinese as “tiankeng” or “heavenly holes”.
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The sinkhole near the village of Ping’i is known to locals as Shenning Tiankeng, or “the abyss.” From a distance, the mountain looks like a pair of flying wings, the Guangxi Daily reported.
Researchers arrived at the sinkhole on May 6 and found dense trees at the bottom of the hole, the newspaper reported. They used drones to explore the area and then rapped and hiked down for hours, crossing dense thorns and fig trees. Zhang Yuanhai, a senior engineer at the China Geological Survey Institute of Karst Geology, told China’s state news agency Xinhua that they had found three caves in the walls that were formed early in the evolution of the sinkhole.
While there are trees in other sinkholes, Veni said they can grow only if the hole is shallow enough and wide enough to allow sunlight to pass through. The newly discovered sinkhole is almost certainly home to small animals such as insects, which are currently unknown to scientists, he said.
The 30th sinkhole found in Lei County, China. The video, shared by CGTN, a Chinese state-run TV news channel, shows investigators climbing through dense vegetation and documenting their search. Comparing their new research with other sinkholes could help them better understand their karst landscapes, the channel said.