One of the largest stone arches discovered in Afghanistan

The natural stone arch has been discovered in a remote corner of Afghanistan.

Updated: Apr 02, 2011, 09:00 AM IST

Washington: One of the world`s largest natural stone arches, spanning more than 200 feet, has been discovered in a remote corner of Afghanistan.

Located at the central highlands of Afghanistan, the bridge is more than 3,000 metres above sea level, making it one of the highest large natural bridges in the world.

"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," Walston added.

Wildlife Conservation Society staffers 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, according to a Wildlife Conservation statement.

After making the discovery, they returned to the Hazarchishma Natural Bridge (named after a nearby village) in February 2011 to take accurate measures of the natural wonder.

The total span of the arch -- the measurement by which natural bridges are ranked -- is 210.6 feet in width, making it the 12th largest natural bridge in the world.

The world`s largest natural arch -- Fairy Bridge -- is 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 US.

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 Bridge was carved over millennia by the once flowing waters of the now dry Jawzari Canyon.

IANS