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)