Cave explorers in China discover 192m deep sinkhole with massive ancient forest inside

Go deep or go home.

Belmont Lay | May 20, 2022, 06:50 PM

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Cave explorers in China found a giant sinkhole with a massive ancient forest hidden inside on May 6.

The discovery was made in the Guangxi region, Xinhua reported.

The sinkhole measures 306m in length and 192m in depth.

To get all the way in, the explorers had to first rappel down more than 100m into the sinkhole.

This was followed by a trek for several hours to reach the bottom.

When they got there, they found a primeval forest with 40m ancient trees in the sinkhole floor, expedition team leader Chen Lixin told Xinhua.

Plants in the sinkhole grew densely together and came up to his shoulders, the explorer said.

Three caves in the sinkhole walls were also discovered, believed to have been formed early on in the sinkhole's evolution.

Undiscovered species of flora and fauna

Researchers told AccuWeather that sinkholes of this kind might be home to undiscovered species of flora and fauna.

"I wouldn't be surprised to know that there are species found in these caves that have never been reported or described by science until now," George Veni, the executive director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute in New Mexico, told AccuWeather.

He also said the newly explored sinkhole is almost definitely home to small animals, such as insects, that are currently unknown to scientists, according to Washington Post.

China has plenty of sinkholes

Sinkholes are known as “tiankeng” in Chinese, or "heavenly pit".

They are common in South China owing to the landscape, called “karst”.

Karst is formed when rainwater dissolves bedrock, Veni said. They are made of soluble rock types such as limestones.

The Guangxi region was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2007.

Its unique topography includes rock formations and extensive cave systems.

China is home to Xiaozhai Tiankeng, the largest sinkhole in the world at more than 600m in depth.

It is located in Tiankeng Difeng National Park in Chongqing City.

Top photos via Guangxi Daily & CGTN