I was watching ABC news Tuesday evening and saw a brief documentary called Return to Crystal Cave. To sensationalize the report, the cave was compared to Superman’s cave, a wonderful new discovery dubbed as the “Sistine Chapel of Crystals” by Juan Manuel García-Ruiz, a geologist that has explored the cave. It seems that crystals were found in a cave in the Naica Mountains in Mexico that are as large as telephone poles and yet, very fragile. This was the extent of the report and the reporter pointed the viewers to visit their website for more information. Intrigued, I checked it out. There was no formal report just photos. The photos showed magnificent pictures of and that was it. I thought this was odd that a complete thorough report was really not given the time it deserved on ABC News. This sent me on a fact-finding mission to find more information about this special cave. It appears that ABC News was way behind on their reporting of this crystal cave. The Discovery Channel actually filmed a research team exploring the cave for a week in April of 2007. The documentary film is about 45 minutes long and can be found in five segments on You Tube. I have included the links at the bottom of my blog.
Watching the 45 minute video revealed some neat information. The Naica Mountains are located in the desert area just south of Chihuahua, Mexico and about 200 miles south of the border of Texas. The Naica Mountains is the home of the largest mine in the world where miners work to extract lead, zinc and silver. In April 2000, miners found an underwater cave some 900 feet below the Earth’s surface and began pumping the water from the cave in hopes of finding silver. Instead they found a cave about the size of a football field and as high as a two-story building filled with gypsum crystals. These are the largest crystals ever found on the Earth, some five times larger than any ever discovered ranging 36-50 feet long and weighing up to 55 tons. The crystals are very hot to touch and very sharp and entering the cave was very dangerous. In fact, the cave was so hot, nearly 122 degrees Farenheit and near 100% humidity, because the entire mountain is located over a magma chamber. It took seven years to design a suit that could be safely used. With the new suits it was possible to stay inside the cave for 30 minutes. The suits were equipped with monitoring devices and a team of doctors monitored those in the cave at all times. In April 2007, a team of two explorers and three scientists were invited to spend a week in the cave exploring and taking samples. The explorers attempted to find entrances to other caves while each scientist had a separate mission. Prof. Penelope Boston of New Mexico Tech, took samples of fluid inclusions in an attempt to find an undiscovered life form and possibly answer questions about the origin and evolution of life on this planet. Prof. Stein-Erik Lauritzen of the University of Bergen, Norway, collected a core sample to determine the geologic age of the crystals. The third scientist and last member of the team was Dr. Chris McKay from NASA. He hopes to one day discover evidence that there was life on Mars. The crystals will help him prepare because of the high extreme temperature in which they grow and their geologic time. He has a new spectrometer that he was testing on the crystals.
The video then goes to each scientists’ laboratories a year later to see what their samples and tests have uncovered. Interested in the results? Check out the video by going to the links below:
This is worth the time to watch!