World's Largest Crystal Cave Is in Mexico

The Giant Cave of Crystals contains 55 tons of selenite crystals

By on September 26th, 2008 15:13 GMT
Situated in Chihuahua, Mexico, the Giant Cave of Crystals is abundant in selenite (gypsum) crystals which have reached lengths of 50 feet (15 meters) and weights of 50 tons.

The breath-taking Chihuahua cave is the largest crystal one ever found. These wonderful crystals are located in big “pockets”, about 1.000 feet (300 meters) down, inside the mountains of Naica. The cave was discovered eight years ago and quickly became one of the most prominent findings in the history of geology.

The crystals, formed during the millenia from hydrothermal fluids, were able to survive intact at an average heat of 136 degrees Fahrenheit (57.7 degrees Celsius), in conditions of humidity of 100%. Luckily, the water that envelops them, rich in minerals, constantly helps them grow. The temperature in the caves sometimes goes as high as 150 degrees Fahrenheit (or 65.5 degrees Celsius); it evaporates the water and literally surrounds the crystals in a sauna.

It gets so hot in there that people who visit the caves can only withstand the temperatures for a matter of several minutes at a time. Getting past this barrier of time could lead to severe health disorders, mainly mental function disturbances. In fact, cases of people who tried to stay for longer have been recorded since the cave was exposed to public knowledge. As such, a person tried to steal some of the smaller crystals at one time but lost consciousness because of the excessive heat. The crystal that he was chopping loose fell on him and pinned him to the ground. Later on, he was discovered roasted to death. Subsequently, a series of measures have been taken in order to prevent further removal of the beautiful crystals by unauthorized people.

Geological researchers go in prepared, wearing suits in order to protect themselves against the inhospitality of the caves. They plan to condition the caves and get them ready to open them for public visitation. This has to be done without interfering with the natural conditions that keep the crystals in their best shape and help them grow. Until then, the curious will be pleased to know that some of these crystals can be glanced upon at the Smithsonian Institute, where they have been exposed.

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