Danxia Landform

Zhangye Danxia Landform is located in Linze County 50 KM from Zhangye city. The landform spread on the north slope of Qilian Mountain with elevation range from 2000 meters to 3800 meters above sea level and covering an area of 100 sq km. It’s 40 km long from east to west and 5-10 km wide from south to north. Those mountains mainly consist of sandstone and conglomerate which have been weathered or eroded for millions of years. The mountains in the area generally have red colors, but there are strips of other colors as well, such as yellow, orange, green, white, gray and black. People like to call it Landform of seven colors or great palette of god.

Danxia in Chinese means “rosy cloud”, the name Danxia landform is not an internationally recognized geology term. In brief, Danxia landform is the continental red bed landform with escarpments. It refers to various landscapes found in southeast, southwest and northwest China that "consist of a red bedcharacterized 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 by limestones, but since the rocks that form danxia are sandstones and conglomerates, they have been called "pseudo-karst" landforms.

The first studies, on what are now referred to as Danxia landforms, were conducted at Mount Danxia near Shaoguan, China. In the 1920s and 1930s Chinese geologists made an effort to learn more about these interesting geomorphic structures. Similar in appearance 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.

 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 Wanfo (Hunan Province),Mount Danxia (Guangdong Province), Taining and Mount Guanzhi (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. Other notable danxia areas, such asZhangye Danxia National Geological Park, are not included in the World Heritage Site.

Around 80 million years ago cretaceous red sandstone and conglomerate were laid down through sedimentation of lakes and streams. After another 15 million years tectonic plate movement exposed many faults. About 23 million ago, movement of the Himalayan range, disturbed the land around Guandong, China creating much uplift and completely changing the topography of the area. Over millions of years the steep cliffs that can be seen today were formed through weathering and erosion, exposed by faults. This geology can be seen at Danxiashan Geopark in China, where there is about 290 square kilometers of streams, forest and towering danxian rock formations. .