Long Durational Natural Phenomenon

Existence of Danxia Landform

Duration: 80 Million Years

Text via Wikipedia
Cover photograph CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Guo Qi

The Danxia landform refers to various landscapes found in southeast, southwest and northwest China that "consist of a red bed characterized by steep cliffs.” Danxia landforms are made up uplifted continental crust that has been faulted and eroded, exposing large scarps of layered rock, red in color.


Photograph CC BY 2.0 Eric Pheterson

The first studies were conducted on what are now referred to as Danxia landforms were conducted at Mt. Danxiashan, located near Shaoguan, China. In the 1920s and 1930s, Chinese geologists made an effort to learn more about these interesting geomorphic structures. The building blocks of Danxia landforms were formed around 80 million years ago. They consisted of cretaceous red sandstone and conglomerate laid down through sedimentation of lakes and streams. After another 15 million years, tectonic plate movement exposed many faults. About 23 million years ago, movement of the Himalayan range disturbed the surrounding land. Over millions of years, the steep cliffs that can be seen today were formed through weathering and erosion, exposed by faults.


A very peculiar feature of Danxia landscape is the development of numerous caves of various sizes and shapes. The caves tend to be shallow and isolated, unlike true karst terrain where caves tend to form deep, interconnecting networks.


To read more about Danxia landforms, click here.