Thursday 29 May 2014

Geology 102: Mining Tiger Leaping Gorge, by Ian Neuss

The Yangtze is a mighty river that once flowed into the Red River to Hanoi, but with India pushing up the rocks in front of it and disrupting its original passage, it now flows east through China providing a life giving source of water and now energy to the landscape.

The Yangtze has three great bends in its upper reaches. We visited the second, then driving through the mountains of the region we came across the river flowing in different directions, adding to the geographical confusion. It travels about 1300km south to the first bend then turns 160 degrees north east for 130km through Tiger Leaping Gorge, before turning again 160 degrees to the south for 300 km to the third bend, which turns it east through China.

Highly deformed recrystallized limestones, used in buildings everywhere in China, make spectacular gorges, helped by India pushing from the south. Above the limestones are silt stones and sandstones which form wide valleys, which can be farmed. All make for a spectacular landscape.

High above the Tiger Leaping Gorge walking trail you can see small holes in the hill which look like rabbit burrows from a distance. Travelling on we came across plastic pipes and ceramic lined sluices disgorging a white sand into palongs built into the meagre areas of almost-flat land along the trail. There were also three large buildings along the road which collected the material from pipes and sluices.

It would appear that the locals are mining tungsten from the contact zone of a granite and limestone high in the gorge and sending it down the mountain for processing and sale.


  1. Great postings with admirable mechanical and driving skills to have made it to the gorges. I guess Ian's Geology 101 and 102 reflect his prodigious memory for facts gained 50 years ago and applied to an adventurous career. Living vicariously. Travel safely

    1. If I was as profound as Dr how I would be happy. But thanks for the comments. Hope your adventure goes as well as ours has gone so far.

  2. Hey Mr Ian, fantastic trip! Nice to see your face again eveni fit is only online. Flash.


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