Do you know the Rainbow Mountains? the art of nature

China's Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park are one of the best-kept secrets of Earth's wonders.

The relief that rises above the horizon gives the impression of being painted with a palette from a world different from our own; Huge brush strokes decorate the landscape and resemble a giant rainbow reflected in the mountainous terrain.

In northeastern China, in Lingjie and Sunan counties in Zhangye province, there is a mountain complex called the National Geological Park for its hidden beauty. In an area of ​​more than 300 square kilometers, there are many unique mountains that seem to undulate like waves of color.

Despite their ancient formation, 'the Rainbow Mountains' were only named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2009. That same year, the magazine Chinese national geography He chose it as one of the six most beautiful geological formations in the Asian giant. In 2011 the area became the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park. But before, in 2005 this area was chosen as one of the most beautiful areas of Danxia, ​​according to specialized journalists.

In 2014, the government invested 100 million yuan in works and structures to facilitate access for tourists, such as walkways and viewing platforms.

The Rainbow Mountains live up to their name: they look like a natural painting, which, over time, has created a colorful work of art with indescribable symmetry. The landscape is awash in a palette dominated by ocher, changing to blues, greens and yellows, interspersed with patterns that resemble the colors of the rainbow.

What creates the colors of the Rainbow Mountains?

rainbow mountains

The origin of the Rainbow Mountains dates back to the Cretaceous period, long before the Himalayas began to form. These are sandstone and shale formations that contain sufficient amounts of different minerals in the soil, creating different colors that decorate the landscape, like brushstrokes.

What was once a flat, horizontal landscape with several layers of sand and silt has been altered by the violent collision of two of the most impressive tectonic plates in the region: the Indian Plate collided head-on with the Eurasian Plate about 55 million ago of years, marking the beginning of the formation of one of the most unique geological regions in the world.

Just like when two cars collide and their bumpers fold, the area above Zhangye, which was quite flat at the time, was transformed into the various Rainbow Mountains that can be admired today.

In this way, sedimentary rocks came to light that would otherwise not be exposed to the elements and, on the contrary, would remain below the surface, very hidden in the depths of the earth.

Weathering and erosion resulting from the collision of the two plates removed the upper layers of continental siliciclastic rocks and exposed underlying components with different chemical and mineralogical compositions. The result is rolling mountains juxtaposed with a color palette reminiscent of an earthly rainbow.

rainbow mountains

Mountains of this type are extremely rare, although it is known that the mountains that rise in Zhangye, China are not the only ones in the world, about 100 km from the city of Cusco In Peru there is also the Mountain of the 7 colors known as Vinicunca. The two are believed to be linked by an ancient geological process that ultimately gave them their vibrant colors.

Without a doubt, these are geological wonders that show us that when it comes to phenomena coming from the interior of the Earth, the complexity is simply unimaginable.

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