BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO ZHIJINDONG CAVE GLOBAL GEOPARK
Zhijindong Cave Geopark is situated in the west of Guizhou Plateau in southwest of China, and is located at the river bank zone of Liuchonghe River, the upstream of main steam of Wujiang River, which is one of the tributaries of Yangtze River. With an area of 170 km.The Geopark has abundant geoheritages which can be generally classified into 11 categories: karst cave, karst gorge, karst natural bridge, karst tiankeng, karst high fengcong, karst hill, karst cuesta and pictographic mountain, karst hydrology, palaeontological fossil, stratal rock and tectonic geoheritage, etc. All geoheritages have been developed in the Lower Triassic Series marine carbonatite and distributed intensively in such three karst geomorphic units as Zhijindong Cave, Qijiehe River and Dongfenghu Lake as well, which are relatively independent and integrated on one hand and closely linked to each other on the other hand through Qijiehe River. These geoheritages constitute a comprehensive geopark integrating majestic, typical, beautiful and precious plateau karst landscape and colorful human landscape as well as biological landscape with caves, gorges, natural bridges and tiankengs as its core.
Zhijindong Cave geomorphic unit is developed on the basis of Zhijindong Cave underground river, generally belonging to a fossil type cave karst geomorphic unit which has already stopped its development. It shows the marvelousness, splendidness and rareness of Zhijin with Zhijindong Cave as its core. There are grand cave chambers and valuable and rare stalactites with complete types and intensive distribution inside the cave. These different types and shapes of stalactites are well preserved and almost covers all the formation condition and sedimentary types of all the stalactites. So far, Zhijindong Cave is a show cave with the highest chamber distribution density, and with the highest distribution density, richest type, most precious morphotype of stalactites in the world so far. It owns the systematicness and completeness of evolution of karst cave and is the most distinctive natural scenery and an important area with aesthetic value among cave karst as well as one of the most important and typical karst cave evolution sites. Thus, Zhijindong Cave deserves a name as “Paradise of Caves” .
Qijiehe River geomorphic units is developed based on Qijiehe River running underground and aboveground alternatively, generally belonging to a geomorphic unit, in which the surface and subsurface karst topography are developing alternatively. Jointly,Gorges, natural bridges and tiankengs present Zhijin’s grandness and peculiar feature jointly. Series of mountains stand on both sides of Qijiehe River, presenting a magnificent and dedicate scenery. Zhijin natural bridge group consisting of five natural bridges stretches over Qijiehe River Gorge with nearly a hundred meter’s height and height of arch. The natural bridge group, which is of double-layer texture (up and down) in general, is the only huge natural bridge group with double-layer and double-pore structure discovered both at home and abroad so far. Zhijin tiankeng group consists of 7 tiankengs and is one of areas in the world with the highest tiankeng distribution density, among them, Dacaokou tiankeng is one of those tiankengs with the largest volume in the world. Their high symbiotic development degree, dense distribution, grand and peculiar morphotype have great typicality and representativeness in the world. They are of great scientific value for researching their systemic evolution and global comparison. They are important sites to popularize the science and exhibit karst miracle to the public.
Dongfenghu Lake geomorphic unit is developed on the basis of surface river-Liuchonghe River and Sanchahe River, generally belonging to a surface karst geomorphic unit which is still developing so far. It presents the natural beauty and harmony of Zhijin with Dongfenghu Lake gorge as its core. It has a length of 38km and a depth of over 500m in the deepest. The upper part of most gorges is very wide and in box shape; while, the lower part is pretty narrow and is in V shape. Two green ribbons, Liuchonghe River and Sanchahe River, transverse the gorge bottom. While stratum distributes on both sides of the river, some of them layer-upon-layer look like city walls, some of them has been weathered and form a number of rock pillar peaks. With rich national culture, colorful plants and elusive animals, they together form a natural, beautiful and harmonious ecological environment, showing the original, powerful, splendid, colorful and wonderful charisma of the nature.
Various peculiar, precious, typical and grand karst landscapes are distributed over the above-mentioned three geomorphic units, which include all types of karst landform and are combined into the magnificent multilayer karst landform, and the caves, gorges, natural bridges and tiankengs are the typical representatives and outstanding sceneries in the world geoheritages of the same kind. It is an outstanding area fully representing the beauty of Guizhou Plateau karst landscape, and is also the most miraculous and wonderful karst area in Guizhou Plateau; it systematically and completely reveals an evolutional sequence and process that the surface and subsurface karst have been developed alternatively forming multilayer karst landform since the Quaternary Period; it owns extraordinary natural beauty and scientific value and is an outstanding example of Guizhou Plateau karst landform evolution. It is an excellent and rare natural karst museum across the world.
During millions of years, the nature has carved and preserved the amazing scenery of Zhijin karst, meanwhile, it has also created the good and livable ecological environment. Since the ancient times, Zhijin has been the cradle for reproducing many minorities in the south of China, and it not only preserves and inherits enormous and colorful national cultural landscape, but also creates a good ecological environment, becoming a fairyland for diverse wildlife. Furthermore, a few years’ conservation and development for the geopark has improved local transportation and living standard of the local people. Besides, many miraculous karst geosites have been protected, the regional ecological environmental conservation level has been improved, the tourist industry has been developed and the tourist facilities have been bettered, and it has become the best choice for people to get close to nature,understand the secret of karst on plateau,and travel there for sightseeing and on holiday.