Untouched ancient forest discovered inside ’cool’ 630-foot sinkhole in China

An incredible giant sinkhole has been discovered in southern China – and there’s a forest at the bottom of it.

The sinkhole is 630 feet (192 metres) deep, which means the BT Tower could fit in it.

Cave expert George Veni, based in the US, claimed the discovery was not a surprise, but he said it was “cool news”, reports Live Science.

He said southern China was home to “karst topography”, which means it has a landscape that’s prone to dramatic sinkholes and caves.

“Because of local differences in geology, climate and other factors, the way karst appears at the surface can be dramatically different,” he said.

“So in China you have this incredibly visually spectacular karst with enormous sinkholes and giant cave entrances and so forth. In other parts of the world you walk out on the karst and you really don't notice anything.”

The Chinese boffins who made the amazing discovery earlier this month found there were three cave entrances in the chasm and ancient trees 131 feet (40 metres) tall, stretching their branches out towards the sinkhole’s entrance to catch the sunlight, according to Live Science.

Expedition team leader Chen Lixin told the Xinhua news agency that the dense undergrowth on the sinkhole floor was as high as someone’s shoulders.

“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,” Lixin said.

The inside of the sinkhole is 1,004 feet (306 metres) long and 492 feet (150 metres) wide, said Zhang Yuanhai, a senior engineer with the Institute of Karst Geology.

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The discovery happened in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Guangxi’s karst formations include rock pillars and natural bridges as well as sinkholes.

It brings the number of sinkholes discovered by scientists in the area to 30, and the region has been designated a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

The same researchers have also found dozens of sinkholes in north-west China's Shaanxi province, as well as some in Guangxi.

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