Strangest Places on Earth #13 : Zhangye Danxia Landform

A colorful mountain range it is. Looks like the Gods decided to play Holi on these rocks.

Strangest Places on Earth #13 : Zhangye Danxia Landform


Your eyes are not deceiving you. This layer cake of amazing colours is a real landscape located at Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu Province, a remote region in northern central China. Located near Shaoguan, China is Mt. Danxiashan, which is where the first studies were conducted on what are now referred to as Danxia landforms. In the 20’s and 30’s chinese geologists made an effort to learn more about these interesting geomorphic structures. Similar in looks to karst topography, danxia landforms are made up uplifted continental crust that has been faulted and eroded, exposing large scarps of layered rock, red in color.

The Danxia landform refers to various landscapes found in southeast and southwest China that “consist of a red bed characterized by steep cliffs”. It is a unique type of petrographic geomorphology found in China. Danxia landform is formed from red-coloured sandstones and conglomerates of largely Cretaceous age. The landforms look very much like karst topography that forms in areas underlain bylimestones, but since the rocks that form danxia are sandstones and conglomerates, they have been called “pseudo-karst” landforms. Danxia landforms cover several provinces in southeast China. Taining County, Fujian Province, has very good examples of “young” danxia landforms wherein deep, narrow valleys have been formed. As the landform gets older, valleys widen and one gets isolated towers and ridges.The danxia landform is named after Mount Danxia, one of the most famous examples of the danxia landform. A very peculiar feature of danxia landscape is the development of numerous caves of various sizes and shapes. The caves tend to be shallow and isolated, unlike true karst terrain where caves tend to form deep, interconnecting networks. In 2010, several danxia landscapes in southern China, with a general name of “China Danxia”, were inscribed as a World Heritage Site. The six inscribed danxia landform areas are: Mount Langshan and Mount Wanfoshan (Hunan Province), Mount Danxia (Guangdong Province), Taining andGuanzhishan (Fujian Province), Mount Longhu and Guifeng (Jiangxi Province), Fangyan, Mount Jianglang (Zhejiang Province), and Mount Chishui(Guizhou Province). The total core area of 6 regions above is 73945 ha, and the total buffer area is 65446 ha.

Danxia 2

Even for the undeniably powerful Mother Nature, creating something this arty wasn’t easy. It in fact took 24 million years of painstakingly laying down mineral deposits to form these rocks, like pouring different colors of sand into a jar. Over time these weighty layers were compressed into rock, and then a slight and unthinkably slow ripple from the collision of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates rumpled the landscape into those magnificent undulations to complete the effect (meanwhile also giving rise to the Himalayas). Thus the amazingness of Zhangye Danxia was formed.


The rockforms of Zhangye Danxia range in colour from deep red to yellow and green, the highly contrasting bands of color glowing most intensely after rainfall. As the setting sun casts golden rays and a lacework of shadows across the landscape, the visual effect becomes even more stunning.


See if you can spot the tourists !!! Can you ? Well, why not be one of them !!!