You’re looking at a picture of the Zhangye Danxia Landform in Gansu China. Arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth:
The Zhangye Danxia Landform in Gansu, China is one of many similar areas unique to China. In these areas exposed sandstone bedrock has been beautifully weathered over millions of years to reveal stunning patterns of rich colour that continue for miles across the landscape.
Viewed from above, the depth of colour that spreads across the region’s landscape isn’t as prominent – the best time to see the stripes of sediment that run through the red sandstone bedrock is during the early morning or the evening when the sun is low in the sky and highlights the beauty of the landscape.
You can explore the area on Google Maps here.
Formation of the Zhangye Danxia Landform
The layers of coloured sediment and sandstone were laid down during the Cretaceous period of the earth’s history. Back then, the region was inhabited by dinosaurs like the Tarbosaurus Bataar – kind of a Chinese version of the Tyrannosaurus Rex:
Fossils from these guys were laid down in the sedimentary rock of the region around 65 million years ago, but the actual folds of the landscape were actually caused by the same process as the Himalayas which formed when the Indian tectonic plate crashed into Asia millions of years later.
Although it had been known about throughout Chinese history, appreciation of the natural beauty of the Zhangye Daxia Landforms is quite recent. The area was mapped and studied during the 1930s, and since China has opened its doors to the rest of the world it has become a popular tourist destination that attracts sightseers from all over the world.
The influx of tourists threatened the preservation of the rock. The government of China has spent more than 100 million Yuan on the region. This will improve the infrastructure and protect the unique rock formations of the Danxia Landforms for future generations.