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Chinese Scientists to Explore Uninhabited Zone

Chinese scientists will carry out a research expedition to the central area of China's largest uninhabited region in October.

The central area of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau is 2,500-km-long and 100-km-wide with altitude differences of over 1,000-meters. Rivers to the north of the plateau watershed run to the Pacific and rivers south to the Indian Ocean.

"Our task is to research the geological formation of the watershed and its influence on climate in China and the world," said Ding Lin, leader of the expedition team and researcher at the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The watershed is the spine of "the roof of the world", a major climate division on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau and runs through the center of Hoh Xil, Ding said.

Hoh Xil, more than 4,000 meters above sea level, is the natural habitat of Tibetan antelopes and wild horses.

Ding said that scientists will survey the location of bronze, lead, zinc and gold deposits, collect floral species to compile a genetic database, learn about rare plateau animals in order to provide scientific input for animal protection following the commissioning of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, and also study ecological and environmental changes in Hoh Xil.

Chinese scientists completed a successful survey in Hoh Xil last year, collecting more than 200 lava, sediment and rock specimens. They found very rare mantle rocks and discovered gold mines and unusual boulders.

"We also obtained more than 100 genetic samples of Tibetan antelopes, wild yaks and plateau pikas," said Ding, who also led the last expedition.

(Xinhua News Agency September 23, 2006)

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