Tuesday, 28 Oct, 2008 Environment

Earth's Largest Crystal Found in Mexican Cave


One of the most impressive natural miracles on Earth has been discovered 1,000 feet under the Naica mountain, situated in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico: a gigantic crystal enriched with a number of other crystals that are up to 36 feet long, having a weight of up to 55 tons.

The cave below the mountain was found accidentally by two miners who performed excavation works in search for lead and silver mine. The cave found in Mexico is known as Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of Crystals). It includes some of the largest known natural crystals on the planet - translucent beams of gypsum that are 36 feet long and softer than human nails. The largest crystal discovered beneath the surface of the mountain is 500,000 years old.

The crystals developed in a stable natural environment of the cave with temperature varying around 136 degrees F (58 degrees C). The water, which is rich in minerals, is the main reason why crystals became so big. High temperatures of the cave can kill a human after only 15 minutes. The scorching temperatures arrive from the depth of the Earth. The mountain sits on a number of fault lines. A magma chamber, located 1.5 miles under the mountain, warms the water that flows across Naica, Telegraph reports.

The natural marvel was exposed thanks to contemporary mining operations. Specialists pumped the water out of the cave, discovered eight years ago near the town called Delicias. It is worth mentioning that the mountain, were the giant crystal was discovered, represents one of the world's most rich lead and silver mines.

The company that performed the excavation works was asked to preserve the caves. The full story will be published in the November issue of the National Geographic Magazine.

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