In Pics: What's inside this 630 feet heavenly pit in China? A lush forest! Let's dive in
A giant forest hidden inside the Earth's surface...sounds like something right out of a Jules Verne novel.
What if we tell you this is something very real and it was discovered recently?
Check it out:
A place right out of a fantasy novel
Who here is a Jules Verne fan?
I know I am. Do you remember the novel (or the movie) "Journey to the center of the Earth". The book painted the astonishing picture of another world, nestled right at the center of our planet.
It was glorious. Now, a similar mind-blowing discovery of a hidden world has been made in China.
A lush forest
Located at the bottom of a 630 feet (192 meters) deep sinkhole in China is a lush forest.
Xinhua news agency reports that it is deep enough to swallow United State's famous St. Louis' Gateway Arch.
The chasm has three cave entrances and is home to ancient trees as tall as 131 feet (40 metres).
US based National Cave and Karst Research Institute's George Veni calls the discovery "cool news".
But as amazing as it is to us, explorers say this discovery is no surprise. Apparently, Southern China where this discovery was made is home to Karst topography.
This type of landscape is formed because of bedrock erosion.
Rainwater, which is mildly acidic, absorbs carbon dioxide as it passes through the soil, making it more acidic. The water then trickles, rushes, and flows through bedrock fissures, gradually enlarging them into tunnels and voids.
Once a cave chamber becomes large enough, the ceiling can eventually collapse, resulting in massive sinkholes.
However it is still a significant discovery. In Mandarin such enormous sinkholes are called "tiankeng" or "heavenly pit".
The sinkhole from the inside is 1,004 feet long and 492 feet wide, reports Xinhua citing Zhang Yuanhai, a senior engineer with the institute of Karst Geology.
An oasis of life
Karst caves and sinkholes are generally an oasis of life.
As per Chen Lixin the leader of the expedition that made this discovery, the sinkhole can very well house species that have never been reported or described by science.