This crystal cave is revealed unintentionally, and it is big enough to drive a car inside. It was discovered in 2000 by two miners looking for a lead. The cave located at the Naica Mine in the Mexican state is called Chihuahua. This country is well known for its extraordinary and unique crystals. Mostly, people can find zinc and silver mines, which are operated by the Industrias Penoles, the largest lead producer in Mexico.
The formation of the crystals
The main reason for their creation is the fact that Naica is on an ancient fault. The place is an underground magma chamber, right below the cave. Well, now, the magma heated the water in the ground and created minerals. It creates a large amount of gypsum. The space of the cave is filled with hot water, which is very filthy rich with minerals, and stayed there for 500,000 years. During this time, the temperature of that hot water was the same, and that is 50 degrees Celsius. It is the perfect environment for the formation of the crystals, and they grow into immense sizes.
How did they grow in that big?
In the journal ‘Geology,’ Garcia-Ruiz claims that for such a long time, the crystals thrived in their cave, and it is a rare case. Also, it is extraordinary because the natural environment was stable for such a long time. When the temperature remained the same, which means that the crystals had the perfect conditions for growth, they were growing bigger.
Nowadays, the mining operations are pumping the water out of the ten by thirty meters cave. Now, the mining company received advice by Garcia-Ruiz, to preserve the caves.
Exploration and scientific studies
Paolo Forti led a scientific team to explore the cave in detail, back in 2006. Paolo Forty is a specialist in cave minerals and also a crystallographer at the University of Bologna, Italy. To survive underground in the cave, under such conditions and that high temperature, the scientists invented their refrigerated suits and cold systems for breathing. The suit is called Tolomea suit, and the breathing system was called Sinusit respirator.
The caving overalls fitted with a mattress of refrigerating tubes, placed throughout their bodies, and linked with a backpack that was heavy around twenty kg. The bag was filled with a reservoir of cold water and ice. The cooling process will melt the ice, and that was enough to provide the body half an hour of anatomy.
In the survey, besides the mineralogical and crystallographic researches, there were also studies for biochemical and microbial features of the giant gypsum crystals.
Stein-Erik Lauritzen, employed at the University of Bergen, Norway, did the uranium-thorium survey so that he can find out the maximum age of there crystals. His results showed 500,000 years.
Penelope Boston is part of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and an expert for caves and geomicrobiologist. She finds out that sterile sampling of the crystal gypsum drillcores by creating small boreholes in the big crystals during aseptic conditions. Her goal was to reveal the possible presence of some ancient bacteria that survived in the fluid. The solid inclusions indicated the presence of the calcium sulfate. They consisted of magnesium and iron oxy-hydroxide, and there was nothing organic. The experts couldn’t take DNA from the ancient bacteria from the solid inclusions to amplify by PCR.
Besides these experts, there were many other researchers. They covered the area of palynology-pollen study, geochemistry, and other conditions that are characteristic for this place, the cave of crystals.
People discovered the crystals of selenite (gypsum), and it is big four feet, or 1.2 meters in diameter and fifty feet long, or fifteen meters.