Lost Limbs Foundation

Monday, May 13, 2013

CAVE OF CRYSTAL GIANTS, MEXICO



CAVE OF CRYSTAL GIANTS, MEXICO

Hidden underneath the Earth are some amazing natural wonders that remain undiscovered. 


The Cave of Crystal Giants, home to the world's largest known crystals, was discovered only 
13 years ago, when silver and lead miners in Naica, Mexico accidentally mined into this cave 
300m below the Earth.

Looking closely enough, you can tell that these modern explorers are wearing heat 
protective clothing, even using cold-air respirators. This is due to the fact that once one 
travels through the earth's crust, the temperature skyrockets to 44.4 degrees Celsius (112 
degrees Fahrenheit) with near 100% humidity. This causes the perceived temperature to be 
upwards of 105 degrees Celsius (228F), which would be rapidly fatal without protective 
gear. The strange temperatures are due to a proximate magma chamber beneath the cave. 
These moderate to extreme conditions, amongst other factors, are what allows these 
massive crystals to grow.

As one cave explorer puts it, "Miserable conditions for humans, a perfect nursery for 
crystals".The crystals are made of selenite, or a form of crystallized gypsum. The crystals found in 

This Naica cave formed over the span of a few hundred thousand years in a mineral laden, 

consistently hot water solution. Large and small crystals are formed alike, and the entire 

cave is filled with them such that walking in the cave is impossible without stepping on 

them.

Crystallographers have determined the path of formation of these record-breaking crystals. 

The answer to their size lies in isolation. While the rest of the world was experiencing 

volcanic eruptions, continental shifts, monumental uplift…this cave was left undisturbed in 

its conditions for hundreds of thousands of years. Water was consistently a stable 58 

degrees Celsius (136F), and calcium sulfate was consistently filtered, heated, crystallized 

into selenite. Molecule upon molecule of crystallized selenite were laid upon each other in 

the same scientific process for millennia, creating a unique display of colossal crystals - the 

largest humanity has ever seen. But as with many natural discoveries, the introduction to 

humanity proved disadvantageous to the crystal growth.

For thousands of years, selenite crystal growth remained undisturbed. However, as miners 

began to lower the water level beneath the earth's crust in this area in 1985, conditions 

began to change in this undiscovered cave that have been unchanged since its existence. In 

addition, due to lower water levels, the cave is no longer underwater, meaning the 

necessary high temperatures for crystal growth have disappeared, and are decreasing by the 

year. The process of crystallized accretion has officially come to a halt, yet the existent Cave 

of Crystal Giants and their record-breaking crystals remains a stunning geological feature to 

man. Yet, the phrase "record-breaking" must be used tentatively - who knows when the 

next discovery of the world's "largest" crystals will be found?

-- Sam J.