The stalactites are structures formed by deposits minerals hanging from the caves . These formations are firmly supported on the ceiling of said caves and hang from them. They are forms that have been developed over time through the waters that infiltrate the caves, this because the water is responsible for dissolving the calcium carbonate in the sedimentary rocks and manages to filter through the different cracks in the caves.
What are stalactites?
Stalactites are a series of calcareous formations that have irregular structures that end in a point . These elongated rocks take their shape from the effect of the water hanging from the ceiling of the caves.
- How they are formed
- Where they are
- Ice stalactites
- Salt stalactites
- Volcanic stalactites
- Caves with stalactites by country
How they are formed
Stalactites are calcareous formations that form little by little and do so through infiltration waters . When underground movements occur, the water dissolves the calcium carbonate found in sedimentary rocks and manages to filter through the cracks in the vaults of the caves.
When they come into contact with air and carbon dioxide , they give rise to a precipitate that manages to settle and solidify , and then hang from the grotto. The thickest stalactites found in most cavities are also formed when the flow of water travels through the central channel and the water circulates along the outer walls .
The water that enters through a fissure empties into an air duct . The drop precipitates the calcium carbonate, generating the growth of a thin, hollow cylindrical formation , in which the water continues to circulate inside. This type of growth is called primary , while secondary growth occurs from the sides , which makes the stalactite thicker.
Where they are
Stalactites can be found in caves that are located in various parts of the world, varying in size and formation . In addition to caves, they can also be formed within any natural or artificial cavity that has mineral water contributions. It is for this reason that they can be found in old volcanic tubes or ancient mines .
The main characteristics of stalactites are the following:
- They can reach different meters in length .
- They are formed as a result of mineral deposits in the filtered water.
- In its center we find a conduit through which the water that is full of minerals continues to flow .
- At the tip of the stalactites, the water continues to drip and falls to the ground where the accumulation of precipitates has the ability to form other spelotems called stalagmites .
- They have a hollow part in the center that is the place where the water drips.
- They can come to have different shapes , but there are mainly those that have a conical and tubular shape .
At the poles you can see how some of them are formed. Salty ice stalactite , or ‘ brine icicle ‘, is a phenomenon that occurs naturally during polar winters , when temperatures drop below -18 ° C while water remains at the relatively high temperature of – 2 ° C.
Water warm in the sea flows upward in the ice surface, while the water cools, water saltier drained and returned to sink in the sea. When it descends, the water around it freezes and if the conditions are suitable it can reach the bottom of the sea.
The type of stalactite that is formed by salt is considered one of the smallest formations , due to the crystallization of the salts.
This type of stalactite forms in lava tubes , while lava is still active inside. The formation of lava stalactites occurs very quickly in a matter of hours, days, or weeks, while limestone stalactites can take up to thousands of years. Once the lava has stopped flowing , the stalactites will stop growing . This means that if the stalactite were to break, it would never grow again.
Like limestone stalactites, they can leave lava droplets on the ground that turn into lava stalagmites and can eventually merge with the corresponding stalactite to form a column.
Caves with stalactites by country
- Caves of Tolantongo, Hidalgo
- Grottoes of the Star
- Cacahuamilpa Grottoes
- Loltún caves
- Secret River
- Grottoes of the Rosary
- Valporquero cave
- Eagle Grottoes
- Grotto of Wonders
- Cave of El Soplao
- Caves of Drach
- Jameos del Agua
- Wanda Mines
- Caves of the hands
- Wayra Caves
- The Virgin of Lourdes grotto
- Temple cavern