Five Most Famous Volcanoes in China: Datong Volcanoes
The Datong volcanoes are located northeast of Datong City at Xigelaoshan, just three kilometers from the downtown area. It is the only area in North China where volcanoes are concentrated.
Thirty volcanoes are grouped together in an area of some 60 square km, where the most important ones are Heishan (1,422 meters above sea level), Jinshan (1,368 meters above sea level), Langwoshan (1,028 meters above sea level) and Gelaoshan (1,276 meters above sea level). Jinshan, with its full and integrated configuration, is a top choice for visitors.
The volcanoes are generally shaped like a taper or a hoof, while the craters are largely round or dustpan-shaped. The upper part of the volcanoes is precipitous, while the lower part is even. All of the volcanoes are more or less covered with thick layers of loess at the foothills and thin layers on top since the loess is transported to the hilltops by winds. The bedrock and soil that surround the volcanoes consists of basalt and loess. There are two different kinds of loess -- malan and lishi, with layers of malan loess over the lishi . The basalt and lava around the volcanoes are mixed together due to cyclical eruptive and idle periods.
Volcanic ejecta differ greatly in terms of shape and size. The scoria, block, pumice, lapilli, bomb and ash are arranged in order of distance: The light substances are discarded at a long distance while the heavier ones are cast in the vicinity. Experts have revealed that the earliest eruption at the Datong Volcanoes took place at 340,000BP (before present) and the latest around 60,000-70,000BP (mid pleistocene); the volcanoes are now extinct.
The Datong volcanoes mainly consist of two parts: tertiary formations mainly distributed around Zuoyun and Youxian counties, and those formed in the following generation, largely distributed in the Datong Basin. The latter group of volcanoes is the focus of the research. Based on their distribution features, they have been divided into four districts -- the eastern, southern, western and northern.
Volcanoes in the east are the six independent hillocks lying in the Sanggan River Valley between Guayuan and Shenquan temples. The three nameless volcanoes located to the south of Sanggan River belong to the southern district.
Volcanoes in the west are the ones located in Guanyuan, and to the northwest of Siping, including 15 volcanoes, such as Heishan, Shuangshan, Laohushan, Langwoshan. They are among the earliest to be discovered that have been subjected to much scrutiny. Generally speaking, volcanoes in this area have three characteristics: they are all cone-shaped; they differ greatly in external shapes; and there are many embryonic and parasitic volcanoes. Since Heishan is largest and Shuangshan is located at the center of the Datong volcano complex, the western area draws the most attention.
The northern district includes Gushan and the other five volcanoes southwest of Gushan. Shaped like a loaf of bread, Gushan, which is composed of basalt, is the largest in the area. Although it is not that high, Gushan stands upright in the valley, looking very majestic.
The Datong volcanoes, with their unique charm, are becoming one of the most attractive sites in Datong.