Naica mountain in the Chihuahuan DesertThis has to be one of the most amazing, awesome-athonic things I have ever seen in my entire life. I haven't seen it in the flesh, although I have been to the World Heritage Jenolan Caves a couple of times. Great and a fair bit of Australian history there, with a whole bunch of caves. Incredible too, the total, complete absence of light in the caves, which stay at a pretty constant temperature all year around.
This material comes from a National Geographic article, and the photos are marvellous.
This bit here with facts about the crystals in the caves comes from an article from Discovery
- The giant crystals found in the caves at Naica are softer than a human fingernail.
- The largest crystal found at Naica is 500,000 years old.
- The stunning crystal pillars are made from the same common mineral as drywall - it's called gypsum.
- The Naica cave's deadly heat comes from the depths of the Earth. Naica sits on a set of fault lines. A magma chamber a mile and a half down warms the water that flows throughout the mountain.
- The Naica principle cave "Cueva de Los Cristales" is 45 degrees Celsius and 100 per cent humidity.
- The Naica facility pumps 16,000 gallons of water per minute out of the mine and runs 24-7.
- The water pumped from the Naica mine formed a lake in the arid Chihuahua desert and is also used to irrigate a golf course.
- Naica is one of the most productive lead mines in the world, and a huge supplier of the world's silver as well.
At the very bottom, I've put up another piece regarding Australia's World Heritage Jenolan Caves.
National Geographic, September 26, 2006
Four amateur explorers have discovered a giant, crystal-filled cave in California's Sequoia National Park that scientists are hailing as a major find.
Only a small portion of the cavern has been explored so far. But researchers say they have already found several large chambers with a variety of formations, including thin curtains of minerals several feet tall, slender "soda straws" up to six feet (two meters) long, and sheets of glimmering crystals on the cave's floors and walls.
Explorers have also found animal remains, including the skeleton of what resembles an ancient bear. That find inspired researchers to name the cave Ursa Minor—Latin for "small bear" and the name of the Little Dipper constellation.
The cavern was found on August 19 by members of the Kentucky-based nonprofit Cave Research Foundation, which has been surveying the park in search of new cave complexes.
Scientists don't yet know how large the Ursa Minor system is, but they say they have already seen enough to believe it could yield many new insights into the ancient past of the U.S. West.
"There are things in the cave that could really open windows into our knowledge of geologic history and the formation of caves throughout the West," park cave manager Joel Despain told the Associated Press.
"We're just beginning to understand the scientific ramifications of this."
—Blake de Pastino
Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
This is a pretty area, and the Caves are set down in a hollow between a couple of mountains, nice windy roads on the way down. These caves are the world's oldest, and there is a really extensive network. It's a really good place to go for a long week-end with plenty of walks and pretty scenery. There's a lot of caves there with a good many open for guided walk throughs. They also hold a few music concerts in the caves with easier access and good acoustics.