Yangshan is located in the Nanjing Hills, east of the city of Nanjing, Jiangning County, Jiangsu Province, eastern China. The Nanjing Hills are fairly geologically complex. The rocks range in age from Precambrian to Tertiary, and are structurally deformed (folded & faulted).
Cliffs of gray limestone abound at Yangshan - these cliffs expose the Xixia Limestone (Chihsia Limestone) (Lower Permian). The cliffs have been modified - gigantic stone blocks (stone tablets) have been chiseled from the hillsides. These blocks were intended for Emperor Yongle's tomb. After being cut from the hillsides, it was realized that the blocks were far too heavy for transportation (even by today's standards). The stone tablets have remained at Yangshan to this day. Emperor Yongle (real name Zhu Di) was the 3rd emperor of ancient China's Ming Dynasty. He ruled from 1402 to 1424 A.D.
The Xixia Limestone is a shallow marine unit deposited on the ancient Yangtze Platform, a long-lived depositional feature of the South China Block. Orogenic deformation of the Nanjing Hills area took place during the Mesozoic (Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous). This deformation was associated with final welding events of the North China Block-South China Block collision.