The thick layer of Lower Ordovician limestone near Wulong is crisscrossed by cave labyrinths. This limestone in some areas is covered with Paleozoic sandstone, helping to preserve it from erosion.
Some of the largest sinkholes in the world – such as the exotic Qingkou tiankeng – are located here and some of the most impressive caves in the world connect these giant sinkholes. San Wang Dong is the longest known of these caves.
San Wang Dong is known for decades but intense exploration of the cave started just some decade ago. This exploration is organized by the international Hong Meigui Cave Exploration Society.
Cave has many passages formed by powerful streams.
Closer to its southern end cave crosses Shiwangdong tiankeng – up to 252 m deep sinkhole. It runs close to Taipingmiao and Daluodang tiankengs as well – most likely it is connected to these sinkholes but these passages still need to be found.
San Wang Dong cave runs very close to another giant cave – Er Wang Dong. San Wang Dong, in general, is located lower than the other cave – but it is possible that both caves are linked.
San Wang Dong is characterized by very impressive cave rooms and passages which are almost intact. Some of the most interesting ones are:
- Cloud Ladder House – currently seventh largest cave room in the world. The area of this cave room is 51,158 m² – as large as eight football fields. The ceiling is more than 250 m high and the volume is approximately 5.8 million m³. Mist rises from the stream and forms clouds which are trapped near the ceiling of the cave room.
- Crusty Duvets – 1.86 km long, spacious passage with giant stalagmites and countless gypsum crystals.
- The Sea of Tranquility – enormous passage where nitrates were mined in the past.
- Where The Wind Blows – narrow passage where the wind whistles through, carrying sand particles and dust.
- Xinu Attix – amazing vertical pit.
San Wang Dong Cave on the map
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|Location, GPS coordinates:||29.5903 N 107.9866 E (exit of cave, mistake up to 300 m)|
|Where is located?||Asia, China, Chongqing Municipality, Wulong County, passes through Shiwangdong (Shi Wang) tiankeng|
|Length:||67 825 m|
|UNESCO World Heritage status:||part of "South China Karst", 2007, No.1248|
Though, those which we know offer a surprising diversity of unusual features and impressive sights.
This is the first study of the karst areas of China to be carried out by a Western geomorphologist, and almost all the sources are from Chinese works, as yet unpublished in the West. Karst areas are sensitive to environmental influences and Chinese attempts to deal with these are discussed here, as are Chinese methods of studying karst since they differ somewhat from those in the West.