Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is the largest and deepest canyon in China as well as the entire world. Yarlung Zangbo River, the world highest river, turns south suddenly in Mainling County and cuts the Himalayas Mountain into two sections. Then the river runs through a narrow passage between the two 7,000-meter high peaks of Namjagbarwa and Jialabailei, forming the deepest, narrowest and longest canyon in the world the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon which stretches 496 km long and averages over 5,000 m deep. At the deepest of the Yarlung Zangbo River Grand Canyon, Menba and Luoba people live their primitive life on the purified land on the earth.
Size of the Canyon:
Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is 496.3 kilometers long, which is 56.3 kilometers longer than the Colorado Grand Canyon, world’s second largest canyon. Its average depth is 5,382 meters which is much deeper than the 3,200 meters of the Peru’s Colca Canyon, previously known as the world’s deepest canyon.
Paradise for Unusual Plants and Animals
Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is the highest green land on earth. Peaks of the green mountains beside the canyon are covered with snow and poking high through the clouds. The canyon is the home of many living species. According to preliminary statistics, there are more than 3768 species of plants, 680 species of large fungi, 232 varieties of birds, 31 varieties of amphibians, 2,000 varieties insects and more than 230 kinds of rust fungi.
The diversified climatic zones distributed vertically in the Grand Canyon determined its vertical distribution of diversified vegetation and numerous wild animals. Nearly 5,000 species of vegetation have already been found here. Embracing all representative animals of the south and north as well the Grand Canyon has won the reputation as "Natural arboretum", "Natural Zoo", "Plant Gene Bank" and so on, a typical "Xishuangbanna in Tibet".
Yarlung Zangbo Hydroelectric and Water Diversion Project
The canyon has water resources that can be harnessed by hydroelectric power to produce 100 million kw of energy. In addition, some statistics show that glaciers cover an area of more than 4,800 square kilometers, forming a large "natural reservoir" of ice and snow.
The government of China has declared to establish a "Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon National Reservation". The size of the major dam would exceed that of the Three Gorges Dam. As anticipation, the plant would generate 40,000 megawatts electricity which is more than twice of the output of the Three Gorges. But the plant’s establishment will impact the life of the local people and even the downstream people in India and Bangladesh.
There is a suggestion from R.B. Cathcart in 1999 that the dam could be a fabric dam which is inflatable with fresh water or air. The dam could block the upstream of the canyon in Namcha Barwa. Water can be conveyed through a hard rock tunnel to the downstream from that mountain. This dam could generate tens of thousands of megawatts which can be distributed to the whole world via a Himalayan power grid. Most of the water will flow into the Indian Ocean and this project will just take superfluous resources of the unused water from the rivers in south of Tibet. Some speculate that this project could even help places like Bangladesh to reduce the floods here.