5 Facts about Giant Crystal Cave
Netgenz - Science | A crystal is a form of matter in which the atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in the most ordered three-dimensional lattice. Crystals are called crystalline solids because the majority of crystals are solids. Usually created naturally and come from within the earth.
To get crystals, some people have to mine them. But nowadays, it is generally as artificial crystals made in the laboratory. Commonly recognized crystals are diamonds, salt, and snowflakes.
The discovery of crystals in the Naica mine had made the world bustling. In a cave in the mine, crystals were found in large numbers of the same size. The crystal cave eventually attracted the attention of researchers and trackers from all over the world. What other interesting evidence of the crystal cave?
Read Also: 5 Facts about Light Pillar
Here are 5 Facts about Giant Crystal Cave
1. Found by accident
crystal portrait in the Giant Crystal Cave
The Naica Mine in Chihuahua, Mexico, is known as a tin, zinc, and silver mine. The mining complex is known to contain the largest deposits of silver, zinc, and lead in the world. The Naica mine is owned by Industrias Peñoles, which opened in 1828.
In 2000, 2 miners, who were siblings, did excavations to find new ore sources. Instead of a source of ore, the 2 miners, Juan and Pedro Sanchez found a cave covered in water and the walls were full of crystals. After pumping the water out, it is clearly seen that the crystal has a giant size.
The cave is a limestone cave located at a depth of 300 meters. under Mount Naica, in the Chihuahua wilderness. The cave is like a horseshoe, 30m long and 10m wide. The floor of the cave was filled with giant crystal blocks, even crystal blocks came from the floor of the cave and stood like pillars. The large crystal size makes the cave called a giant crystal cave.
In 1910, miners discovered another cave under Naica, 120 mtr. underground. The walls of the cave are decorated with crystal swords and it is said to be a cave of swords. Although the number of crystals in the sword cave is increasing, the size is only about one meter, smaller than the giant crystal cave
2. The beginning of the formation of the crystal cave
portrait of cave visitor with crystal
Mount Naica was created from volcanic activity about 26 million years ago. The giant crystal cave below is estimated to have been filled with water for several tens of thousands of years. The water is moved to the surface of the cave by the magma chamber below, and the water contains a lot of the mineral anhydrite.
Anhydrite minerals as rock-forming minerals, namely anhydrous calcium sulfate. It can be said that anhydrite is a form of calcium sulfate that does not contain water. Quoted by National Geographic, the mountain is covered by hot anhydrite.
At temperatures above 58 degrees Celsius, anhydrite exists in a constant state. The magma chamber keeps the water in good condition and hot. As the magma beneath the mountain begins to cool and the temperature begins to drop, the anhydrite begins to dissolve.
The dissolved anhydrite makes the surrounding water laden with sulfate and calcium molecules, which eventually form crystals. Because it's underwater—and because the temperature of the water differs only slightly from 58 degrees Celsius—crystals can grow continuously until they fill the cave. This explains why the crystals in the cave have a giant size.
3. The type of crystal in the cave is gypsum crystal and life is found in it
crystal sample portrait from the Giant Crystal Cave in Chihuahua, Mexico
Crystals in the cave have a length of more than 12 meters. and 4 meters wide. The edges of the crystal are quite sharp, with an estimated weight of over 55 tons. This type of crystal is found as a type of gypsum crystal. Gypsum can be made from calcium sulfate. The colorless and exposed type of gypsum found in caves is called selenite gypsum.
Selenite is a form of the mineral gypsum, called satin spar, which is a type of mineral that has fibers that are formed in long strands, clustered, forming sticks or sticks. Selenite is commonly used in the manufacture of paint, tiles, and chalkboard.
In the crystal samples brought to the laboratory, long-standing organisms with a dormant status were found. Scientists have finally succeeded in reviving organisms that are thought to have been imprisoned in crystals for at least 10,000-50,000 years. These organisms are called extremophiles, namely microbes that can develop under conditions that seem impossible.
Make You Like: 5 Levels of Pressure Under the Sea
4. The conditions in the cave are quite dangerous for humans
Although it looks beautiful, the situation and conditions in the cave are impossible for humans to exist in it for a long time. The state of the cave was indeed very good for crystals to grow, but it was really risky for humans. The air temperature in the cave reaches 47.1 degrees Celsius, and the humidity level of the cave reaches 100%. High humidity makes visitors who stay in the cave for a long time at risk of experiencing fluid condensation in the lungs so it can have a fatal effect.
Quoting Earth Magazine, some people insisted on going in to take the crystal. An employee even attempted to enter the cave, then was unconscious, and was already dead when he was found. Trackers and researchers visiting the cave must obtain a permit, and can only be in the cave for 10-15 minutes. But by wearing special equipment in the form of coolers and respirators, some researchers were able to end up staying even longer, around 30 minutes.
5. The crystal cave is finally closed
illustration of people visiting caves
Some tracers and researchers were able to enter the cave because groundwater in the cave was pumped out continuously. But since it was discovered in April 2000, the crystal structure began to disintegrate due to exposure to air. The surface of the crystal that was once covered in water was now dry. This causes selenite to change to basanite, which is a type of calcium sulfate that has only one water molecule in the crystal structure.
Because selenite and basalt have different volumes, cracks begin to appear on top of the crystal. Gases such as nitrogen oxides, methane, and carbon dioxide from the machinery used in the mines react with the gypsum, making the crystals discolored.
Because it is difficult to reach and quite risky, crystal caves are unlikely to be a public recreation site. In addition, exposure to air has a negative effect and destroys crystals. On this basis, in the end, several researchers and mine owners agreed to close the cave. The mine owner closed the mine lane leading to the cave and allowed groundwater to fill the cave again. With desire, the crystal is always protected and continues to grow.
Very rare natural events, such as giant crystals that fill caves, always attract the attention and interest of many groups. It's really a shame that the presence of humans actually disturbs and destroys this natural phenomenon so that not all people can enjoy its beauty directly. Studying and recognizing nature will make people appreciate nature even more.