A sinkhole in China has revealed a hidden forest and ecosystem hundreds of feet below the surface.
In China, sinkholes are called “tiankeng” which translates to “heavenly pit”.
LiveScience reported that the newly discovered sinkhole is 630 feet deep.
Specialists rappelled into the sinkhole and explored the mysterious depths.
They found enormous trees, thick brush and the mouths of three caves while on the floor of the sinkhole.
“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,” one of the researchers who explored the pit said.
The plant life at the bottom of the pit grew up to a person’s shoulders, the same explorer said.
The landscape style in southern China is called “karst topography” – and its the reason why sinkholes are so common in the area.
LiveScience’s reporting explains that in karst landscapes, acidic rainwater flows through the soil and bedrock, creating tunnels which grow with time.
Eventually, the weight of the earth above the tunnel is too much to support, causing the tunnel to be crushed and opening up a sinkhole.
An expert said that 25% of the United States landscape is “karst or pseudokarst”.
Sinkholes in urban areas can be dangerous and have fatal outcomes.
In 2020, a sinkhole in Xining, China opened up in the middle of a road and swallowed a bus – six people were killed.
“Because of local differences in geology, climate and other factors, the way karst appears at the surface can be dramatically different,” the expert added.
The discovery of the new, deep sinkhole that is teeming with life brings the total count of sinkholes in the area to 30.