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Newly discovered natural arch in Afghanistan one of world's largest
Date:3/30/2011

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have stumbled upon a geological colossus in a remote corner of Afghanistan: a natural stone arch spanning more than 200 feet across its base.

Located at the central highlands of Afghanistan, the recently discovered Hazarchishma Natural Bridge is more than 3,000 meters (nearly 10,000 feet) above sea level, making it one of the highest large natural bridges in the world. It also ranks among the largest such structures known.

"It's one of the most spectacular discoveries ever made in this region," said Joe Walston, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Asia Program. "The arch is emblematic of the natural marvels that still await discovery in Afghanistan."

Wildlife Conservation Society staff Christopher Shank and Ayub Alavi discovered the massive arch in late 2010 in the course of surveying the northern edge of the Bamyan plateau for wildlife (the landscape is home to ibex and urial wild sheep) and visiting local communities.

After making the discovery, they returned to the Hazarchishma Natural Bridge (named after a nearby village) in February 2011 to take accurate measure of the natural wonder. The total span of archthe measurement by which natural bridges are rankedis 210.6 feet in width, making it the 12th largest natural bridge in the world. This finding pushes Utah's Outlaw Arch in Dinosaur National Monumentsmaller than Hazarchishma by more than four feetto number 13 on the list.

The world's largest natural archFairy Bridgeis located by Buliu River in Guangxi, China, and spans a staggering 400 feet in width. Several of the top 20 largest natural arches are located in the state of Utah in the U.S.

Consisting of rock layers formed between the Jurassic Period (200-145 million years ago) and the more recent Eocene Epoch (55-34 million years ago), the Hazarchishma Natural Bridge was carved over millennia by the once flowing waters of the
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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