Mexico is a beautiful country boasting of a beautiful landscape. One such accessory in its beauty are the caves that house the world’s largest crystals.
Cave of the Crystals or Giant Crystal Cave is a large cave site which contains giant selenite crystals or gypsum. This site is found 300 metres below the Naica Mines in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico. These are some of the world’s largest natural crystals ever found, with the gypsum beams measuring up to 11 metres and weighing up to 55 tons. The site is a beautiful natural occurrence that was first discovered in the year 1910. The Penoles Mining Company discovered what later came to be known as ‘Cueva de Las Espadas’ or Cave of Swords. This cave was a hallway that was filled with gypsum or selenite that was up to 2 metres in length. It was 120 metres underground, was opened for exploration and then tourism, which led to the destruction of many of the crystals.
90 years later..
It was 90 years later, in the year 2000, when two miners, who were working on an excavation tunnel 300 metres below the Naica Mines, discovered a much larger cave. In this cave, the crystals were almost 12 metres long. These caves then came to be known as ‘Cueva de Los Cristales’ or Cave of Crystals.
How did this come to be?
Millions of years ago, volcanic activities filled the mountain with a waterless form of gypsum. As the magma eventually cooled, this anhydrite dissolved, enriching cave waters, which eventually led to the formation of these gigantic crystals.#FunFact
An amazing fact is that these crystals are still growing, which means that they will eventually become bigger than they currently are.
Considering the beauty of the site, many assumed that this cave too will be accessible to tourists. But this was not to be. The air temperature inside the cave is 50 degrees Celsius, with almost 100% humidity. This means that when you breathe in air, the surface of your lungs will be the coolest surface that the air will encounter. The fluid will thus start condensing inside your lungs, which is not too great for your body. So, a person can stay for about ten minutes only, inside the caves. Explorers usually use a special kit designed for breathing inside the caves.
Because of the conditions, only a few chosen geologists and explorers have ventured into these caves. All that we know of the caves comes from various studies carried out by these scientists.
What the studies tell us
The Cave of Crystals is a horseshoe-shaped cavity in a limestone rock. The floor is covered in crystalline blocks, and huge crystal beams jut out from the blocks and the floor. These crystals thrived because they were submerged in mineral-rich water. The rocks are so huge that they have pockets of water and fluid trapped in them. This phenomenon has been studied along with many others. Fluid shows high mineral content as well as bacterial infestations. While a group of scientists believe that these bacteria came through the human contact, many believe that they exited earlier.#FunFact
Scientists have previously claimed that they had made attempts to revive bugs found in the caves, which were thought to be dormant for millions of years.
Image Courtesy – Most Shocking Places
The importance of this cave thus becomes more highlighted, considering that it holds many secrets of the metamorphosis the earth has gone through. It is necessary to protect them from the prying eyes of the Mexican miners, who have tried to steal these crystals. Iron doors protect these caves for now and there are strict entrance rules and guidelines. This natural marvel is heavily guarded, and research and experiments are going on as of 2017, to find out more about the mysteries of the world beneath the surface of earth.