Cave of the Crystals Naica,Messico
The Cave of Crystal Giants is one of the largest underground spectacles on our planet. It is a geological wonder located in the depths of the Mexican desert of Chihuahua, just close to the border of the United States of America.
This lead, zinc and silver mine is completely covered in pure chalk crystals which reach a depth of 300 meters. It was only discovered in 2002 after the collapse of a cave wall and was then given the name of Cave of Crsytal Giants (Cueva de los Cristales).
The cave contains the largest crystalline formations ever found on Earth, some of which weigh about 55 tons. These crystal formation can measure up to 15 meters in length and 2 meters in diameter and survive in an extreme environment with temperatures that range from 118°F to 140°F with a humidity of 100%. This inferno of heat is uninhabitable by man and those who work in the caves are made to wear special heat resistant suits equipped with respirators, very similar to space suits.
The Naica Caves were considered a mystery for many years until Juan Manuel Garcia-Ruiz, a scientist from the University of Granada, explored its source. According to the calculations of the scholar, these structures formed due to the slow pace with which the material crystallizes and in a published scientific article from the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" he said: "The growth of the crystals is so slow that until now it was almost impossible to measure. We were able to study them thanks to a microscope we designed with the University of Sendai, Japan. This tool has allowed us to estimate that some of the crystals have grown over the course of a million years."
A recent study conducted by Penelope Boston, head of the Astrobiology Institute of NASA was presented during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The study revealed the discovery of certain microbes, and in particular bacteria which have been trapped inside the crystal formations for at least 50,000 years. These bacteria thrive on iron, sulfur and other chemicals that can live within extreme environmental conditions. This amazing discovery helps us reflect on the ability of life to adapt to even the most hostile of environments. The Naica Cave is certainly not a tourist destination, but its mysterious beauty allows us to understand the endless hidden possibilities of our planet.
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