NAICA CRYSTAL CAVES

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WELCOME

You may think that it is unusual to have an entire page on our web site dedicated in whole to a large cave complex full of crystals, however these caves are just not any crystal caves, they are the most spectacular crystal caves in the entire planet. The magnificence of this place makes it, undoubtedly one of the top natural wonders of the world. If you are fortunate enough to visit some of these amazing places, it is only then you begin to really appreciate just what a truly remarkable place our world really is. It immediately brings to one’s mind the grandeur of the Universe and the wonderful place the Earth and its people play in the unending story of the Great Creators work in which we are blessed to be a part.

Please enjoy the following story.

The Naica Mine of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, was a working mine that contains extremely large senelite crystals. Located in Naica in the municipality of Saucillo, the Naica Mine was a lead, zinc and silver mine operated by  one of Mexico’s largest lead producer.The caverns which were discovered during mining operations contain crystals of selenite gypsum as large as 1.2 m (4 ft) in diameter and 15 m (50 ft) long. The mining company announced in October 2015 that it had indefinitely suspending operations at Naica Mine.

Currently, the high temperature is 58° C (136° F) with 99% humidity, which interferes with breathing and increases the risk of asphyxiation. Because of this, researchers require specialized suits with an oxygen supply to survive working in the environment.

The Cave of Crystals is a cave approximately 300 m (1,000 ft) below the surface in the limestone host rock of the mine. The chamber contains giant selenite crystals, some of the largest natural crystals ever found. The selenite crystals were formed by hydrothurmal fluids emanating from the magma chambers below. The cavern was discovered while the miners were drilling through a newly drained area. The caves are closed to the public, and remain closed after a worker tried to enter the cave to steal some of the selenite, only to suffocate and die in the cave’s humid and inhospitable atmosphere. After enough research on the crystals has been carried out, some of the chambers will be allowed to flood again and continue the process of crystal growth.

Formation of the crystals

Naica lies on an ancient fault above an underground magma chamber below the cave. The magma heated the ground water which was saturated with sulfide ions (S2−). Cool oxygenated surface water contacted the mineral saturated heated water, but the two did not mix due to the difference in their densities. The oxygen slowly diffused into the heated water and oxidized the sulfides (S2−) into sulfates (SO42−). The hydrated sulfate gypsum crystallized at an extremely slow rate of over the course of at least 500,000 years forming the enormous crystals found today. The key to this process is the slow diffusion of oxygen from the cool, low density surface water into the hot, high density ground water.

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