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Phnom Kulen National Park EarthCache

Hidden : 10/28/2009
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Geocache Description:

Phnom Kulen is the holiest mountain in Cambodia. It was here in 802 AD that King Jayavarman declared himself the god-king and breaking away from the Java kingdom. This is the birthplace of the Angkor kingdom and modern Cambodia.

Located 30km beyond Angkor Wat, it is an exquisite mountain region of magical, thundering waterfalls, raunchy riverbed carvings and Cambodia’s largest reclining Buddha carving on its summit. In Phnom Kulen National Park you can see many red sandstones from which Angkor temples were constructed. Red sandstone was quarried here in this park. 

Geology of the park:
mineral sandstone

There are several kind of sandstones like for example Lithic Sandstone, Banded Sandstone, Quartz Sandstone, Glauconitic Sandstone but in Phnom Kulen national park and listed coordinates you can see mainly red sandstone.

Sandstone (sometimes known as arenite) is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains. Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any color, but the most common colors are tan, brown, yellow, red, gray and white. Since sandstone beds often form highly visible cliffs and other topographic features, certain colors of sandstone have been strongly identified with certain regions.

Some sandstones are resistant to weathering, yet are easy to work. This makes sandstone a common building and paving material. However, some that have been used in the past, such as the Collyhurst sandstone used in North West England, have been found less resistant, necessitating repair and replacement in older buildings.[1] Because of the hardness of the individual grains, uniformity of grain size and friability of their structure, some types of sandstone are excellent materials from which to make grindstones, for sharpening blades and other implements. Non-friable sandstone can be used to make grindstones for grinding grain, e.g., gritstone.

Rock formations that are primarily sandstone usually allow percolation of water and other fluids and are porous enough to store large quantities, making them valuable aquifers and petroleum reservoirs. Fine-grained aquifers, such as sandstones, are more apt to filter out pollutants from the surface than are rocks with cracks and crevices, such as limestone or other rocks fractured by seismic activity.

Sandstones are clastic in origin (as opposed to either organic , like chalk and coal , or chemical , like gypsum and jasper ).[2 ] They are formed from cemented grains that may either be fragments of a pre-existing rock or be mono-minerallic crystals . The cements binding these grains together are typically calcite , clays and silica . Grain sizes in sands are defined (in geology) within the range of 0.0625 mm to 2 mm (0.002-0.079 inches). Clays and sediments with smaller grain sizes not visible with the naked eye, including siltstones and shales , are typically called argillaceous sediments; rocks with larger grain sizes, including breccias and conglomerates are termed rudaceous sediments.

The formation of sandstone involves two principal stages. First, a layer or layers of sand accumulates as the result of sedimentation, either from water (as in a river, lake, or sea) or from air (as in a desert). Typically, sedimentation occurs by the sand settling out from suspension; i.e., ceasing to be rolled or bounced along the bottom of a body of water (e.g., seas or rivers) or ground surface (e.g., in a desert or erg). Finally, once it has accumulated, the sand becomes sandstone when it is compacted by pressure of overlying deposits and cemented by the precipitation of minerals within the pore spaces between sand grains.

The most common cementing materials are silica and calcium carbonate, which are often derived either from dissolution or from alteration of the sand after it was buried. Colors will usually be tan or yellow (from a blend of the clear quartz with the dark amber feldspar content of the sand). A predominant additional colorant in the southwestern United States is iron oxide, which imparts reddish tints ranging from pink to dark red (terracotta), with additional manganese imparting a purplish hue. Red sandstones are also seen in the Southwest and West of England and Wales, as well as central Europe and Mongolia. The regularity of the latter favors use as a source for masonry, either as a primary building material or as a facing stone, over other construction. 


Sandstones fall into several major groups based on their mineralogy and texture. Below is a partial list of common sandstone types.

  • quartz arenites are made up almost entirely of quartz grains, usually well sorted and rounded. These pure quartz sands result from extensive weathering that occurred before and during transport and removed everything but quartz, the most stable mineral. They are common in beach environments.
  • arkoses are more than 25 percent feldspar.[2 ] The grains tend to be poorly rounded and less well sorted than those of pure quartz sandstones. These feldspar-rich sandstones come from rapidly eroding granitic and metamorphic terrains where chemical weathering is subordinate to physical weathering.
  • lithic sandstones contain many lithic fragments derived from fine-grained rocks, mostly shales, volcanic rocks, and fine-grained metamorphic rocks.
  • graywacke is a heterogeneous mixture of lithic fragments and angular grains of quartz and feldspar, and/or grains surrounded by a fine-grained clay matrix. Much of this matrix is formed by relatively soft fragments, such as shale and some volcanic rocks, that are chemically altered and physically compacted after deep burial of the sandstone formation.
  • Eolianite is a term used for a rock which is composed of sand grains that show signs of significant transportation by wind. These have usually been deposited in desert environments. They are commonly extremely well sorted and rich in quartz.
  • Oolite is more a limestone than a sandstone, but is made sand-sized carbonate ooids, and is common in saline beaches with gentle wave action
Kbal Spean site in Phnom Kulen National Park  

Kbal Spean in Phnom Kulen National Park is well known with its spectacularly carved riverbed, set deep in the jungle to the northeast of Angkor. More commonly referred to in English as the ‘River of a Thousand Lingas’. The name actually means ‘The Bridgehead’, a reference to the natural rock bridge at the site. Linga have been elaborately carved into the riverbed, and images of Hindu deities are dotted about the area.

The site is known for its carvings representing fertility and its waters which hold special significance to Hindus . Just 5cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings are etched into the sandstone riverbed. The waters are regarded as holy, given that Jayavarman II chose to bathe in the river, and had the river diverted so that the stone bed could be carved. Carvings include a stone representation of the Hindu god Vishnu laying on his serpent Ananta , with his wife Lakshmi at his feet . A lotus flower protrudes from his navel bearing the god Brahma .
Kbal Spean was discovered in 1969, when EFEO ethnologist Jean Boulbet was shown the area by an essai; the area was soon off-limits due to the civil war, only becoming safe again in 1998.

Approaching the wonder of Kbal Spean, ones need uphill walk to the carvings, along a pretty path that winds its way up into the jungle, passing by some interesting boulder formations along the way. Carry plenty of water up the hill, as there is none available beyond the parking area. The path eventually splits to the waterfall or the river carvings. It is best to start with the river carvings and work back down to the waterfall to cool off. There is an impressive carving of Vishnu on the upper section of the river, followed by a series of carvings at the bridgehead itself, many of which have been tragically hacked off in the recent years. This whole area is now roped off to protect the carvings from further damage.

Along way, you may see many of local coming here for picnicking which is not advisable at all. Following the river down, there are several more impressive carvings of Vishnu, and Shiva with his consort Uma, and further downstream hundreds of linga appear on the riverbed. At the top of the waterfall, there are many animal images, including a cow and a frog, and a path winds around the boulders to a wooden staircase leading down to the base of the falls and the pool. Visitors between February and June will be disappointed to see very little water here. The best time to visit is between September and December.  

kbal spean waterfall

Kbal Spean is generally a more rewarding place to visit a compared to Phnom Kulen. Admission to Kbal Spean is included in the general Angkor pass and the last entry to the site is at 3.30pm. An on way journey to Kbal Spean is about 50km northeast of Siem Reap or about 18km beyond the temple of Banteay Srei. Road from Banteay Srei continues north to Anlong Vieng, formerly a stronghold of the Khmer Rouge.  

Source: free encyclopedia and other educational materials

Car park and entrance to Phnom Kulen National Park: N13.40.629, E 104.01.635

For the valid "cache found" log:

1) you have to upload a photo of you with GPS infront of the waterfall 

(N 13.41.126, E 104.00.972, you do not have to stand in the pool)

2)  send me via e-mail (

-  at least three names of common sandstone types 

3)  send me via e-mail (

just few meters above the waterfall (where you have taken the photo) you can find the sandstone carved crocodile. It is  on the bank of the river (but depends on seasonal weather can be in the river)

Which colour does the sandstone carved crocodile have ?
Can you see whole crocodile or just a head ?



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