How old is China's well-known Three Gorges area on the Yangtze River? After a four-year study, Chinese experts conclude the answer is 2 million years.
The discovery was expected to be used in environmental pollution and geographical disaster control in the Three Gorges area. The valley had gained global fame since the building of the reservoir for the massive Three Gorges Project which began to store water in 2003, said Yuan Daoxian, a renowned geologist with China's Academy of Science.
The Three Gorges area used to be dales and hills with the Yangtze running through. The gorges took form under the co-influences of river erosion and frequent orogenic movements.
Yuan, also a professor with the Chongqing-based Southwest China University, led an expert team to carry out research on the development of the valley and the evolution of its environment between 2003 to 2007.
The team conducted field investigation along the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze and took rock and soil samples from 12 key sites back to the lab for study.
"We have clarified the formation and distribution of different landforms in the Three Gorges area, especially those that are prone to geographical disasters like landslide and mud flow," he said, adding the team would submit a research report to the government.
The Three Gorges, which consist of the Qutang, Wuxia and Xiling Gorges, extended for about 200 kilometers on the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze. They had become a popular world-class tourist destination noted for their beautiful natural landscape and numerous historical and cultural relics.
China launched the Three Gorges Project, the country's largest hydro-power project, in 1993. Its 26 turbo-generators were designed to eventually produce 84.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually after its scheduled completion next year.
All About Three Gorges
(Xinhua News Agency January 10, 2008)