Nature's Palette: Luscious Landscape

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With its vast red rock formations set against pure blue skies, the Chinese Zhangye Danxia mountain range resembles a real-life oil painting. Years of movement below the Earth’s crust, combined with weathering on the Earth’s surface, have created the mountains’ unique topographical landscape and its trademark coloration.

The mountains resemble an assortment of brightly colored silks or gemstones. With the changes of time and weather, the colors vary constantly; the mountains are best viewed after rainfall when the rocks’ colors are especially striking.

Research shows that about, 100 million years ago, there existed a huge inland basin in the Danxia Mountain area, where water carried silt from the surrounding mountains to the basin. As a result of elevated global temperatures, the basin dried up; due to the arid conditions of the area, sediments oxidized, turning into the color of rust. Some million years later, a thick red-colored layer formed on the basin, known as chalk bed.

Later orogenic movement lifted the whole basin many times; this severe uplifting of the area around the basin resulted in the accumulation of a mass of detrital matter, and thus the development of the deep red bed on the basin. Over millions of years, the red bed gradually eroded because of the Earth's crust uplifting.

Finally, a group of red mountains took shape out of the red bed. According to experts, orogenic movement still exists in the area; the beautiful Danxia Mountains are still growing.

The Redstone Park is full of incredible scenic wonders: cliffs, caves, natural bridges, and valleys. The mountain is covered with sub-tropical evergreen forests, lush, and green all the year round. The river flowing out of the Forest reflects bamboo, trees, and rocks, enhancing the colorful landscape.

*Published in PSC Newsletter2nd School Semester 2012/2013 issue.

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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