Cave of the Crystals or Giant Crystal Cave is a cave connected to the Naica Mine 300 metres (980 ft) below the surface in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Some curious facts about Cave of the Crystals:
- The crystals in the Crystal Cave were formed about half million years ago from crystals the size of a grain of salt into the large 50 ton crystals we see today. They were formed under water where the water temperature is a 122°F (keep in mind water boils at 212°F at sea level). When the miners discovered the caves in 2000 huge pumps were put in place by the miners to pump out the water from the cave at a rate of a million gallons every hour to keep the caves dry. Unfortunately, the local authorities eventually will turn off these pumps and these caves will be lost forever.
- The crystals are made of gypsum, a mineral commonly used in drywalls. Since gypsum is a slow growing crystal, the giant crystals took a half million years to form in hot water saturated with gypsum. The crystals started from small crystals embedded in the walls and floors and gradually grew from there into the size they are now weighing many tons. Some grew as long as forty-five feet in length over time. Other minerals have been found such as Selenite and Aragonite, a mineral commonly found in marine environment. During the exploration, three other caves were explored, The Cave of Swords, The Cave of Sails, and The Queen’s Eye.
- The Cave of Swords was discovered in 1910 and was once flooded, but over the centuries the water had risen and receded several times in cycles called oscillation. The crystals here are similar to the ones found in the other caves but they are much smaller in size. The crystals from this cave can be seen in museums all over the world.
- The Cave of Sails has crystal formation similar to those found in most caves throughout the world. This cave lost it water around 1990.
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