Cave’s Giant Crystals Take Eons to Grow
by Charles Q. Choi
Giant crystals that can reach sizes larger than houses grow at incredibly slow rates, taking as long as a million years to reach more than two stories tall, scientists now find.
Crystals made of gypsum up to 36 ft (11 m) long and about 3 ft (1 m) thick were recently discovered in the now famous Cave of the Crystals in a mine in Naica, Mexico, by far the biggest such crystals in the world.
These highly transparent crystals are not only striking in appearance, they are also mysterious: Scientists have been stumped by how crystals might reach such a giant size. Calculations suggested these crystals needed a narrow range of temperatures to form — between 129 and 136 deg F (54 to 58 deg C) — and a very long time to do so. However, just how long they needed was enigmatic, because the timescales to grow a giant crystal are too vast to reproduce in the laboratory…
(read more: OurAmazingPlanet)           (photo: Alexander Dreissche)

Cave’s Giant Crystals Take Eons to Grow

by Charles Q. Choi

Giant crystals that can reach sizes larger than houses grow at incredibly slow rates, taking as long as a million years to reach more than two stories tall, scientists now find.

Crystals made of gypsum up to 36 ft (11 m) long and about 3 ft (1 m) thick were recently discovered in the now famous Cave of the Crystals in a mine in Naica, Mexico, by far the biggest such crystals in the world.

These highly transparent crystals are not only striking in appearance, they are also mysterious: Scientists have been stumped by how crystals might reach such a giant size. Calculations suggested these crystals needed a narrow range of temperatures to form — between 129 and 136 deg F (54 to 58 deg C) — and a very long time to do so. However, just how long they needed was enigmatic, because the timescales to grow a giant crystal are too vast to reproduce in the laboratory…

(read more: OurAmazingPlanet)           (photo: Alexander Dreissche)

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