Experimental studies on the Danxia landscape morphogenesis in Mt. Danxiashan, South China

Cheng Zhu, Li Wu, Tongxin Zhu, Rongfeng Hou, Zhinong Hu, Yan Tan, Wei Sun, Tianjiao Jia, Hua Peng

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8 Scopus citations


The formation of Danxia landscapes is too slow to be observed in our life time and the paleoclimates in which Danxia landscapes developed are significantly different from the present. Thus, this study adopted experimental approaches to examine the lithological and paleoclimatic control on the formation of various landscape morphologies in the Mt. Danxiashan, South China. A total of 122 rock samples were collected from a range of Danxia landscape morphologies such as white spots, small and large through caves, honeycomb caves, horizontal grooves, natural bridges, stone pillars, and squama stones. Analyses of the collected samples were conducted in different kinds of experiments, including uniaxial mechanical strength testing; rock resistance against sulfuric acid erosion, freezing, and thawing; X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) analysis; inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) analysis; and identification analysis under a polarizing microscope. The results indicated that the formation of the various Danxia landscape morphologies could result from one or more of the following processes: differential erosion due to lithological difference, chemical dissolution and recrystallization, freezing and thawing actions, acid corrosion, weathering, lateral erosion of river flows, and tectonic uplifts. Water erosion in humid monsoon climate and the alternations of intensive freezing and thawing actions in the Quaternary glacial stages and the interglacial stages could have had great influences on the formation of Danxia landscape topographies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-966
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geographical Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 5 2015


  • China
  • Danxia landform
  • experimental studies
  • paleoclimates
  • rock properties


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