Cave of the Crystals

The maps and pictures below present information about Cave of the Crystals. Cave of the Crystals or Giant Crystal Cave is a cave connected to the Naica Mine below the surface in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico. The main chamber contains giant selenite crystals (gypsum, CaSO4·2 H2O), some of the largest natural crystals ever found. The cave's largest crystal found to date is in length, in diameter and 55 tons in weight. The cave is extremely hot with air temperatures reaching up to with 90 to 99 percent humidity. The cave is relatively unexplored due to these factors. Without proper protection people can only endure approximately ten minutes of exposure at a time.

A group of scientists known as the Naica Project have been heavily involved in researching these caverns.

Formation of the crystals

Naica lies on an ancient fault and there is an underground magma chamber below the cave. The magma heated the ground water and it became saturated with minerals, including large quantities of gypsum. The hollow space of the cave was filled with this mineral-rich hot water and remained filled for about 500,000 years. During this time, the temperature of the water remained very stable at over 50 °C (122 °F). This allowed crystals to form and grow to immense sizes.


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In 1910 miners discovered a cavern beneath the Naica mine workings, the Cave of Swords . It is located at a depth of 120 m, above the Cave of Crystals, and contains spectacular, smaller (1 m long) crystals. It is speculated that at this level, transition temperatures may have fallen much more rapidly, leading to an end in the growth of the crystals.

The Giant Crystal cave was discovered in 2000 by miners excavating a new tunnel for the Industrias Peñoles mining company located in Naica, Mexico, while drilling through the Naica fault, which they were concerned would flood the mine. The mining complex in Naica contains substantial deposits of silver, zinc and lead.

The Cave of Crystals is a horseshoe-shaped cavity in limestone. Its floor is covered with perfectly-faceted crystalline blocks. Huge crystal beams jut out from both the blocks and the floor. The caves are accessible today because the mining company's pumping operations keep them clear of water. If the pumping were stopped, the caves would again be submerged. The crystals deteriorate in air, so the Naica Project is attempting to visually document the crystals before they deteriorate further.

Two other smaller caverns were also discovered in 2000, the Queen’s Eye Cave and the Candles’ Cave, and a further chamber was found in a drilling project in 2009. The new cave, named the Ice Palace, is 150 m deep and is not flooded, but its crystal formations are much smaller, with small 'cauliflower' formations and fine, threadlike crystals.

Exploration and scientific studies

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Close places of interest

Naica (0 km)

Naica is a town in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is located in the municipality of Saucillo and reported a population of 4,775 in the 2005 INEGI Census. It is a mining town and the location of the renowned Naica Mine.

Camargo, Chihuahua (36.75 km)

Santa Rosalía de Camargo, originally called Santa Rosalia, and now known as "Camargo City", is a city in the eastern part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It serves as municipal seat of Camargo municipality. It is a colonial town steeped in history. The Mission Santa Rosalía has a beautiful park.

Delicias, Chihuahua (56.99 km)

Delicias (Spanish for Delights) is a city in the Mexican state of Chihuahua and serves as the seat of the municipality of the same name. It is located southeast of the state capital, Chihuahua. Delicias was declared an official municipality of the state of Chihuahua on January 7, 1935. Delicias is small industrial city and a major agricultural center located in the Conchos River Valley. The city had a 2005 census population of 108,807 (municipality: 127,211). It was founded on 30 April 1933, making it one of Mexico's youngest cities (Cancun, Quintana Roo was founded on April 20, 1970).

Allende meteorite (100.01 km)

The Allende meteorite is the largest carbonaceous chondrite ever found on Earth. The fireball was witnessed at 01:05 on February 8, 1969, falling over the Mexican state of Chihuahua. After breaking up in the atmosphere, an extensive search for pieces was conducted and it is often described as "the best-studied meteorite in history". The Allende meteorite is notable for possessing abundant, large calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions, which are among the oldest objects formed in the Solar System. Carbonaceous chondrites comprise about 4 percent of all meteorites observed to fall from space.

Estadio Chihuahua (100.51 km)

Estadio Chihuahua is a stadium in Chihuahua, Mexico. It is primarily used for baseball, and is the home field of the Dorados de Chihuahua baseball team of the Mexican League. It holds 14,500 people and opened in 2005.

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