Red Beds and Danxia Geomorphology Working Group

WG Chair:

Prof. Peng Hua
Guangzhou (China)



Ms. Ren Fang
Center for Environmental Sciences, Saint Louis University (USA)


Introduction to WG activity

1. Background and Justification

In May 2009 a symposium was held in Shaoguan City, Guangdong, China, focused on a very special type of morphology long known in China as Danxia morphology. In its simplest form, Danxia morphology can be defined as a suite of bedrock landforms developed on continental clastic deposits, typically red in colour, among which cliffed slopes are the repetitive theme. Responding to the invitation of the organizers, the symposium was endorsed by the International Association of Geomorphologists, alongside IUGS, and attended by four Executive members, including the then IAG Vice-President, Professor Michael Crozier.

During the conference a range of papers related to the Danxia geomorphology was presented by Chinese scholars, whereas more than 20 overseas participants provided international context to the Danxia research. Two major issues emerged from the papers and subsequent discussions:

Danxia morphology needs further research, particularly in terms of processes involved in its shaping and structural geological conditions necessary to its development. The operational definition needs some refinement.

There is a need, and scope, for global comparative research on Danxia-type morphology. It appears that the presence of lithified coarse clastic sediments is fundamental to the origin and evolution of Danxia. However, this type of rock geomorphology is poorly understood and relatively under-researched, if compared with karst, granite or sandstone morphology.

During the conference it was found that great amount of work that has already been done by Chinese scholars on Danxia geomorphology. However, much of this research is poorly known outside China and little international communication exists as far as Danxia research is concerned. Hence, fulfilling the statutory aims of the International Association of Geomorphologists, which are both to enhance research and foster international collaboration, a working group was proposed for the period 2009-2013 to focus on Danxia-type landscapes, its forms and processes involved. The IAG Council approved the Danxia Working Group during its meeting on 10 July 2009.

2. Scientific aims of the group

We envisage that the principal aims of our activity will be the following:

  1. To define, as far as possible, the distinctive nature of Danxia landscapes in terms of form, to account for both its variability experienced in the type area for Danxia – southern China, and its distinctiveness among other morphologies associated with specific rock types.
  2. To identify processes which have shaped Danxia landscapes, both in the past and now.
  3. To recognize conditions (geological and others) necessary for the development of Danxia landscapes, in particular whether terrestrial origin of clastic deposits is essential for Danxia formation.
  4. To identify global distribution of Danxia type landscapes and its controlling factors.

    Last WG Annual Reports:

Annual report 2023

Annual report 2020


  • Report of the International Joint Scientific Investigation on Danxia Landform in Northern Shaanxi Province 25-30 April 2019
  • Third International Symposium on Danxia Landform, Jianglangshan, Zhejiang, China, September 21-23, 2015.
  • Report on First Conference of Danxia Geomorphology Working Group of IAG/AIG and Second International Symposium on Danxia LandformThe scientific development and the protection of resources and environment of red beds and Danxia Landform”
    Danxiashan, Guangdong, China, October 28-30, 2011.