The geological relics of the red bed geomorphology in Zhangye Geopark are composed of seven types of red bed geomorphology formed by the Cretaceous red clastic rocks through tectonic movement, wind and rain erosion, dissolution, water cutting, and gravitational collapse, which enrich the connotation of the Chinese red bed geomorphology discipline and have the most typical characteristics of red bed geomorphology in the arid areas of northern China. Currently, it remains in a natural state and has a complete system, which is very rare among the red bed landforms in China.
Zhangye Geopark is located in the hanging wall of the northern Qilian Mountains fault, the suture line of the northern Qilian plate, and its northern side on a large tectonic unit. The geological development history of Zhangye Geopark is an important component of the evolution of the Qilian orogenic belt. The geological development of the Qilian orogenic belt has experienced a period of Paleoproterozoic continental block formation, a period of Meso-Neoproterozoic continental block growth and expansion to form a continental rift, a period of Neoproterozoic Cambrian oceanic crustization, an early Paleozoic subduction, and a period of continental collision tectonic activity. The region has experienced four major tectonic thermal events related to orogeny with different properties, from early to late: the Huangyuan movement in the late Paleoproterozoic, resulting in thermal compression orogeny; The Tolai movement in the late Neoproterozoic was characterized by continental compression orogeny; The Qilian movement in the late Caledonian period was also the most important and intensively studied tectonic process in the Qilian region. The Qilian Ocean closed and the orogenic belt began to form during this period. The Jiugequan ophiolite suite and blueschist in Zhangye Geopark were the products of this period; Paleozoic intercontinental collision and compression orogeny; During the Mesozoic-Cenozoic era, due to the nappe orogeny affected by the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, frequent changes in climate and environment resulted in the deposition of variably colored Lower Cretaceous sandstone, conglomerate, mudstone, etc. in front of the Qilian Mountains. These rock layers were affected by late neotectonics, erosion, and weathering, resulting in the formation of distinctive geological landforms such as colored hills and red beds.