Zhangjiajie lies in southern China Plate and a humid subtropical climate zone. Its landform was originally from Middle and Upper Devonian series quartz sandstone whose occurrence is nearly horizontal and is formed agents like water erosion, gravity collapse, and weathering. ZhangjiajieLandform is mainly represented by quartz sandstone pillar forests with straight edge, and deeply embedded gorges, peakwalls, natural bridges, mesas, and tablelands. This quartz sandstone is the most typical around the world and named as Zhangjiajie landform. The below 8 factors contribute to the forming of Zhangjiajie Landform:
1. Littoral deposition
Around 380 million years ago (Middle Devonian Period), a large amount of terrigenous detrital material flew into Zhangjiajie in littoral environment. After hundreds of millions years of sedimentation and compaction, the parent rock quartz sandstone of Zhangjiajie was formed.
2. Uplifting and Landforming
Around 350 - 290 million years (late Devonian Period), Hercynian orogenesis changed Zhangjiajie from sea to land. After long-term weathering of sandstone, red weathering crust-iron hat was formed.
3. Crust lowering and Sea Formed
Around 290 - 200 million years (Permian Period and Triassic Period), the lowered crust changed Zhangjiajie area into sea again with deposition of limestone and thus became the parent rock of karst landform.
4. Return to Land
Around 200 million years ago (Late Triassic Period), Indosinian Movement lifted Zhangjiajie area and changed it into land. The previous formed limestone occurred on the surface. Zhangjiajie area left marine environment ever since.
5. Fracture and Deformation
Around from 180 to 80 million years (Jurassic Period and Cretaceous Period), Yanshan Movement caused the fracture and deformation of rocks in Zhangjiajie area. Many inside joints and fracture in the rocks were formed. It provided condition for weathering and fluvial incision.
6. Planation Surface Formation
Around from 65 to 30 million years (Paleocene Epoch to Oligocene Epoch). Crust was relatively stable. The raised mountain experienced weathering, denudation, filling, and leveling up. The planation surface of Western Hunan Period was formed with elevation of about 1200 meters.
7. Denudation Plane Formation
Around from 23 to 2.6 million years (Neogene Period to Early Quaterary Period) , Himalayan Movement led to intensive lifting of Zhangjiajie area. The constant undercut of rivers was stopped by “Iron hat ” and shifted to lateral erosion and broadening. Eventually ‘ denudation plane of Wulingyuan Period’ with elevation of about 800 meters is formed at top of ‘Iron hat’.
8. Landform Formation
The neotectonics over 2.6 million years uplifted the crust in Zhangjiajie area. Running water along the joints and fissures cut the quartz sandstone into the landforms like mesas, tablelands, peak walls, peak forests and single-peak groups. Now the crust in Zhangjiajie area is still rising slowly and Zhangjiajie geomorphologic landscape is still under formation and change.