This week Thinking Color heads to northern China near the Mongolian border to witness a colorful natural phenomenon that was said couldn't possibly exist.
The Qilian mountain range in northern China is one of the most rugged and unexplored regions in the entire world. For years it was said that a spectacular mountain range of brilliant colors was hidden in the foothills of the region. The colors that the locals described to geologists beggared belief and were written off as local legend. That was until a team of Chinese geologists brought back stunning proof from the region that the Rainbow Mountains not only existed but were just as spectacular as described.
The spectacular colors of the range are the result of a very specific set of geological facts. The mountains are based on layers of red terrigenous bedrock. Over thousands of years the limestone above this red base was stained by different weather conditions created layers of myriad colors. Finally, the mountain range is placed on an active vertical fault line that moved the colorful layers of stone into curving pillars of rock over millions of years. The result seems almost impossible but is utterly fantastic to look at.
The entire mountain range was dedicated as a national geological park in 2012 and tourism to the remote region increases every year.