A sort of south-of-the-border Fortress of Solitude, Mexico’s Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of Crystals) contains some of the world’s largest known natural crystalsÃ¢â‚¬â€translucent beams of gypsum as long as 36 feet (11 meters).
How did the crystals reach such superheroic proportions?
In the new issue of the journal Geology, GarcÃƒÂa-Ruiz reports that for millennia the crystals thrived in the cave’s extremely rare and stable natural environment. Temperatures hovered consistently around a steamy 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius), and the cave was filled with mineral-rich water that drove the crystals’ growth.
Modern-day mining operations exposed the natural wonder by pumping water out of the 30-by-90-foot (10-by-30-meter) cave, which was found in 2000 near the town of Delicias. Now GarcÃƒÂa-Ruiz is advising the mining company to preserve the caves.
“There is no other place on the planet,” GarcÃƒÂa-Ruiz said, “where the mineral world reveals itself in such beauty.”
Interestingly, Showcaves.com has the following to report about the cave:
As the temperature inside the cave is 60Ã‚Â°C and the humidity 100%, a visit of the cave always includes a perfect steam bath. But for work in the cave it is really problematic.
First it was absolutely impossible to take any picture of the cave as cameras first steamed up, and when they reached the temperature of the cavern, the electronic was dead. The researchers developed special techniques for the temperature, but more than 10 minutes are not possible inside the cave. Typically two or three minute visits are applicable.
A mine worker who tried to steal some crystals died in the cave: the temperature and the bad air causes dehydration and after a few minutes he was too weak to leave the cave and suffocated. When he was found, his body was cooked (well done to be exact).
If you’ve got Google Earth installed you can select this link to see where the cave is located. If not, you can get it here for free and also see samples of why you’d want it. The cave is somewhere in the hills south of Chihuahua City in Mexico. I can’t find it exactly but if you do please let me know.