by Gennady UFIMTSEV, Dr. Sc. (Geol. & Mineral.), Institute of the Earth Crust, RAS Siberian Branch (Irkutsk)
Paintings of mountains by Chinese artists seem to be unreal and exaggerated to most of our geologists and geomorphologists who are used to Siberian landscapes and the alpine relief of the Altai and the Caucasus. But when one approaches the town ofGuilin in the South China province of Guangxi (Guangxi- Zhuang Autonomous Region of China) one observes an even more fantastic landscape. I, for one, happened to be there thanks to our program of cooperation with geological experts of the
China University of Earth Sciences and the Technical University of Guilin.
As one approaches the town from the north, one is struck by the sight of some really strange and fantastic mountains in the form of towers, steep cones and cupolas isolated from one another. The line of horizon assumes a truly unusual pattern so that you begin to appreciate the truth of the Chinese saying which hails the mountains and rivers ofGuilin as the most beautiful in the world.
As different from the "common" mountains in which the position of prominence belongs to young tectonic uplifts, accompanied by river erosion and the activities of valley glaciers, the strange massifs of Guilin are the product of karst processes (dissolution of carbonate rock and the washing out of the dissolved material). These mountains offer a striking example of the so-called denuded (surface) tropical karst which prevails in this case on the Devonian and carboniferous limestones of the deformed mantle of the South-Chinese platform. The distant copies thereof are the Lena pillars and the picturesque rocky slopes of the valleys of the Aldan, Olenek and other rivers crossing the Siberian platform.
Our acquaintance with the landscapes of Guilin began with the Ludi cave - a chain of underground halls with high arched ceilings. Watching sinters and incrustations in one of these hall ... Read more