08172022

Rocks tell story of China’s great flood

Jishi GorgeImage copyright
Wu Qinglong

Image caption

The flood occurred after a landslide dammed the Yellow River in Jishi Gorge

Geologists have found evidence for an ancient megaflood which they say is a good match for the mythical deluge at the dawn of China’s first dynasty.

The legend of Emperor Yu states that he tamed the flooded Yellow River by dredging and redirecting its channels, thereby laying the foundations for the Xia dynasty and Chinese civilisation.

Previously, no scientific evidence had been found for a corresponding flood.

But now a Chinese-led team has placed just such an event at about 1,900BC.

Writing in Science Magazine, the researchers describe a cataclysmic event in which a huge dam, dumped across the Jishi Gorge by a landslide, blocked the Yellow River for six to nine months.

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