Green-hued Getu He river in the Miao Room

Crouched on the floor in the mud in one of the biggest cave chambers in China, one of the biggest in the world, we can hear nothing but our breathing and the drip, drip of distant water.    Image © Carsten Peter/National Geographic

Above image: The photographer’s lights illuminate the green-hued Getu He river in the Miao Room—considered the world’s second largest cave chamber by area.



We can see nothing but a void. Then we turn to the screen of a laptop connected to a laser scanner, and the Hong Meigui Chamber reveals itself. We float up to its roof, which forms a cathedral arch 950 feet above the cracked mud where we are crouched to avoid the scanner’s beam. We hover over a lake. We touch down on a beach on the far side.

China’s Moon Hill

Climber Emily Harrington takes the hard way up southern China’s Moon Hill, an arch from the remains of a collapsed cave. Sightseers have an easier option: a paved walkway to a viewpoint beneath the arch, then a dirt path to the top. Image © Carsten Peter/National Geographic.

 

Titan Chamber in southern Guizhou Province

Members of a British-led expedition pause at a subterranean lake on the way to Titan Chamber in southern Guizhou Province, where it rains more than 50 inches a year. The lake appears and disappears as the rains come and go. Image © Carsten Peter/National Geographic.

 

Beneath southern China’s landscape cave map

Beneath southern China’s landscape of cone-shaped peaks, arches, and spires, researchers have discovered some of the largest underground chambers in the world. In 2013 a British-led expedition used a cutting-edge laser scanner to measure several cave systems in unprecedented detail, including Gebihe, whose Miao Room (modeled here from the original laser data), with a maximum height of 627 feet, ranks as the world’s second largest known chamber. Image © National Geographic.

National Geographic July

Image © National Geographic.

The images are from the July issue of National Geographic magazine.

source National Geographic