Buried a thousand feet (300 meters) below the earth’s surface, lies a chamber that is home to one of the most magnificent geological discoveries of all time the giant crystal caves of naica. These spectacular crystal formations have been entombed in water in this cave for hundreds and thousands of years, until it was accidentally found by by two miners excavating a new tunnel for the Industrias Peñoles company in 2000.
How the giant crystal caves were formed?
Millions of years ago volcanic activity filled the mountain with a waterless form of gypsum known as Anhydrite. As the molten magma slowly cooled, the Anhydrite dissolved into water thus enriching it. The hydrated sulfate gypsum crystallised at an extremely slow rate over the course of at least 500,000 years, forming the giant crystals.
What else was found inside these caves?
In addition to giant crystals, they include fossil pollen trapped in the gypsum lattice, which allow reconstruction of the external climate of 350 thousand years ago, and microorganisms new to science, which were preserved in the fluid inclusions of the gypsum crystals for tens or even hundreds of thousands of years.
Conditions and research?
The temperature is around 50C and with a humidity of 90% which makes it almost impossible for the body to cool itself. Due to such harsh and dangerous conditions, researchers and scientists have to wear specially made suits which helps keep them cool allowing them to stay for no more than 45 minutes in the cave. This is one of the few places where crystals have been so well preserved in the purest form.