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The Crystal Cave In Mexico

Updated March 30, 2019
Cueva de los cristales is a cave in Mexico filled with giant crystals.
Cueva de los cristales (Spanish for Cave of the Crystals) was discovered in 2000 by two miners excavating a new tunnel in the Naica mine in Mexico.[1] The cave is situated 290 m (950 ft) below the ground and contains some of the world's largest known crystals.[1]
The crystals are made of selenite - a transparent form of gypsum. Before the mining company pumped it out, the crystal cave was filled with water at a temperature just below 58 °C (136 °F).[1] At this temperature, the mineral anhydrite, common in the Naica mountain, is dissolved. The dissolved mineral has over hundreds of thousands of years slowly been deposited as gypsum in the form of huge selenite crystals.[1]
Without water in the cave, the crystals will not grow. In order for them to at least maintain their shape, a special door had to be built, which retained the heat and the humidity in the crystal cave. The air temperature inside the cave had to be at least 50 °C (122 °F).[1]
The inhospitable climate made exploration of the cave dangerous. Scientists were forced to wear suits that cooled their body and breathing air.
After being exposed for several years, scientists began to see signs that the crystals were slowly deteriorating.[2] Fortunately, the crystal cave was flooded in 2017, after mining operations in the Naica mine were shut down.[2] With Cueva de los cristales once again water-filled, the crystals can be preserved and hopefully even continue to grow.[1][2]
References
[1]
"Giant Crystal Cave Comes to Light". National Geographics. Published April 8, 2007. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
[2]
"The Largest Crystals Ever Discovered Are At Risk Of Decay". Forbes. Published July 5, 2018. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
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