Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2015, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (8): 943-966.doi: 10.1007/s11442-015-1212-9

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

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

Cheng ZHU1(), Li WU2,*(), Tongxin ZHU3, Rongfeng HOU4, Zhinong HU5, Yan TAN1, Wei SUN1, Tianjiao JIA1, Hua PENG6   

  1. 1. School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. College of Territorial Resources and Tourism, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu 241002, Anhui, China
    3. Department of Geography, University of Minnesota-Duluth, MN 55812, USA
    4. Administrative Committee of Danxiashan Scenic Spot, Shaoguan 512300, Guangdong, China
    5. Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute, Nanjing 210029, China
    6. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2014-07-13 Accepted:2014-11-20 Online:2015-08-15 Published:2015-07-17
  • Contact: Li WU;
  • About author:

    Author: Zhu Cheng (1954-), PhD and Professor, specialized in geomorphology and Quaternary geology.

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41371204;No.41171163;No.41401216;National Science and Technology Basic Special Key Project, No.2013FY111900;Foundation of State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, CAS, No.SKLLQG1206; No.SKLLQG1422;National Basic Science Personnel Training Project, No.J1103408;Foundation of Modern Analysis Center, Nanjing University, No.0422171010;Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions, No.PAPD


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.

Key words: experimental studies, rock properties, Danxia landform, paleoclimates, China