University of Cambridge

Harry at the Benxi Shuidong National Park, China

Harry Bhadeshia visited the IMR Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shenyang to deliver the Lee Hsun Lecture during April 2019. The IMR kindly treated Harry to a visit to the National Park, including the Benxi water caves. Professor Wang Pei, Fang Yuchao and Harry had a wonderful time, both in the water caves and the museum which has a rich collection of minerals and fossils from many parts of China.

The Benxi Water Caves represent a partially submerged cave system created over a period of many millions of years. The region was covered originally by the ocean, and many sea creatures led to the deposition of limestone from their skeletons. The oceans receded and the cave system developed with spectacular stalactites and stalagtites, each growing about one centimetre per 100 years.

The entrance to the caves.

Professor Wang Pei, Fang Yuchao


The caves are mostly under water, but it is possible to navigate for about 3000 m by boat.

There is of course, water dripping from the top, and it is quite cold in the cave, so suitable long-jackets are provided.

These are stalagmites.

These are stalactites.

This was our guide Danyi, who spoke perfect English. She mentioned that if a drop of water from the ceiling falls on a man's face, then he becomes handsome.

She also asked Harry, somewhat optimistically, to come back in 100 years because a particular stalactite which is 1 cm away from a stalagmite would then be touching.

Walk towards the museum.

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