Er Wang Dong Facts
- The breathtaking Er Wang Dong represents an incredible marvel of geology only recently discovered. Prior to 2012, its true extent was unknown.
- This natural marvel developed into an enormous cave system. Although nitrate miners have long used a few of the smaller surface caves, no one realized the marvels that lay further down.
- A team of intrepid explorers finally investigated the gargantuan system in 2012. In fact, they spent more than a month doing so.
- Many tunnels still remain a mystery. So far, the total explored tunnel length has reached 138,251 ft (42,139 m). There is even a cavern so huge that it actually contains its own weather system.
Er Wang Dong Formation and Geology
The truly magnificent Er Wang Dong formed in what scientists call the Ordovician Period. This period lasted a total of nearly 45 million years, beginning roughly 488 million years ago.
The majority of the walls, floors, and formations formed from native limestone. Long-term erosion by flowing water has further carved out the incredible caves and tunnels.
Later deposits of sandstone atop the limestone subsequently aided in preserving much of the incredible system as we see it today.
Countless stalagmites and stalactites, some of them rather huge, appear throughout the vast stretch of the entire system.
Er Wang Dong Distinctiveness and Meteorology
Perhaps the most astonishing feature of Er Wang Dong remains the Cloud Ladder Hall. This is an enormous chamber with a total volume of roughly 549,000 sq ft (51,000 sq m).
Put in perspective, this is bigger than the area of St. Peters Basilica (both interior and exterior) in the Vatican City.
The roof of this cavern is roughly 820 ft (245 m) high. The height of the cavern and the amount of moisture inside actually allows clouds to form near the ceiling. Just take a moment to imagine that.
The floor of the cavern remains covered with lush vegetation. Er Wang Dong also contains a modest-sized underground river, as well as a large sinkhole. Further explorations are in planning.