Geek Trivia

Researchers Using Google Earth Discovered The Largest Known Natural What?

Volcanic Vent
Oak Tree
The Phrase "Pull Out All The Stops" Entered English By Way Of?

Answer: Bridge

Deep in the forests of the Guangxi Province of China there is a beautiful natural structure that, until recently, was entirely unknown outside of China as few Westerners had ever seen it: a massive limestone arch, known as the Xian Ren Qiao (Fairy Bridge), that spans Buliu River.

In 2009 Jay Wilbur, a member of the Natural Arch and Bridge Society (NABS), came across the formation while looking over the aforementioned region of China in Google Earth. The discovery of an arch of such proportions caused quite a stir among NABS members and an expedition was sent to China in 2010 to formally observe and measure the arch. And when we say expedition, we certainly mean it. Not only does seeing the bridge require traveling to China, then into the remote region of an interior province, but just getting to the arch itself requires a three hour white water rafting trip down the Buliu River.

The trip was more than worth it, however, as their measurements confirmed that the Fairy Bridge wasn’t just a large natural arch, but the largest known natural arch by a wide margin. The arch clocks in at a lengthy 400 feet (+/-15 feet) across, over a hundred feet longer than the previous record holder (the Landscape Arch found in Arches National Park, Utah).

Image courtesy of Gunter Welz.