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Shennongjia: wonderland of geology

(2006-06-09 13:22:04)

 (China Daily) Five thousands years ago, when the legendary emperor Yan Di created a big wooden ladder to collect herbal plants in western parts of Hubei Province, he did not expect his legacy would make the area a world famous tourist destination.


Deriving its name from Yan Di's creation, Shennongjia (literally meaning the ladder of the godly farmer which is an honourary name of Yan Di) has maintained the richest ecological system among areas of the same latitude in the world.


With an area of 1,700 square kilometres, Shennongjia National Park is home to the golden monkey and various rare species.


The biodiversity is a result of the full-range of geological compositions in the Shennongjia area.


Millions of years of geological movement has produced glacier, river and volcano physiognomies across the region.


Shennongjia has recorded the oldest crimpled stratum, which is a typical geological feature of the pre-Cambrian period (600 million years ago).


Above the stratum, primitive plants and prehistoric animals were active, leaving thousands of precious fossils in Shennongjia.


In Shennongjia, the pre-Cambrian strata has been the best conserved in the world. Scientifically, they are important evidence for studying geological activities, the composition of different geographic plates, and making comparisons between different geological eras.


In Shennongjia, there are many stromatolites, a special kind of rock. They are often as thick as 3,000 metres, with layer after layer of clear grains in their outer surfaces. The many miles of ancient rocks form a splendid landscape.


Not only big rocks, but small stones have formed during long-time geological movements in Shennongjia. As a result, hundreds of kinds of rare stones can be found in Shennongjia, with high appreciation values.


Shennongjia has been a good natural museum to record geological activities.


It recorded the rise of the sea in ancient times, the earth plate collision, the phosphoration of inorganic goods, and the Cambrian life explosion.


For millions of years the height of Shennongjia area has been growing gradually and its rise was earlier than its neighouring regions. As a result, various mountains between 2,800-metres and 3,100-metres high in Shennongjia formed the natural watershed between the Yangtze River and Hanjiang River.


The Neotectonic Movement, taking place about 2 million years ago, further created a diversity of geological scenes in Shennongjia, which have been polished in the subsequent ice ages, leaving glacier and Karst physiognomies for Shennongjia.


Thanks to the geological movements, it is easy for people to find various forms of rocks, like monkeys, swallows, pandas and so on.


Water is also a great natural gift Shennongjia has received. The whole region is crosscut and dotted by rivers, lakes, and pools, which looks like belt, neckties and hats of the splendid rocks.


To make the area more wonderful, long and zigzagging caves are dotted across the mountains. When entering a cave, summer could be easily forgotten, together with the outside world.


The natural beauty and its rich resources have long been cherished by its human ancestors. For tens of thousands of years, human activities have been booming in the area, leaving more than 1,000 cultural relics for the next generations to cherish.

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