Mexican crystal cave

In 2000, a group of Mexican silver miners broke through a rock wall and stumbled into something out of a science fiction film: a cave filled with giant white crystals as large as 10 meters (33 feet) long. They’re the largest known crystals on the planet.

It would be a ready-made tourist destination except for the extreme environment, which includes an air temperature of 50 degrees Celsius (122 F.) and almost 100 percent humidity. Humans can’t function long in those conditions, so anyone visiting must wear a special cooling suit and an oxygen mask.

Professor Iain Stewart suited up to visit the cave while recording for a new BBC series called “How the Earth Made Us.” If the video clip is any indication, it’s going to be a spectacular show.

BBC won’t allow its videos to be embedded, but the screenshot above shows Professor Stewart in the cave, dwarfed by the crystals. Click the image to go to the video, which is probably as close as any of us will ever get to seeing those crystals in person.

Professor Stewart’s description of filming in the cavern is worth a read, but be prepared to be jarred by the reality: the cave will probably be closed and allowed to flood.

About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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7 Responses to Mexican crystal cave

  1. Kugai says:

    Yeah, but will the Optherans want them for one of their Organs?

    😀 😉

  2. Lockwood says:

    I posted this too; my pondering revolved around trying to understand why I find these crystals so beautiful. As to the claim that these are the largest crystals in the world, I’m not sure. I vaguely remember hearing about 11-12 m beryls when I was an undergrad in geo at OSU (yes, your OSU, and I’m still in Corvallis), and Wikipedia has this citation for an 18 m beryl: “As of 1999, the largest known crystal of any mineral in the world is a crystal of beryl from Madagascar, 18 meters long and 3.5 meters in diameter.” However, these are embedded in granite-like rock, not standing free in a cave.

    I don’t remember who twigged me to your blog, but I’ve been reading it in RSS for a week or two now. Fun stuff! Thanks.

  3. Astrid says:

    My first thought was “this is a special effect thing out of a movie”. Thanks for sharing this! It’s truly unbelievable and wonderful at the same time.

  4. bArbaroo says:

    Truly remarkable. I get shivers watching the video. There’s just so much to learn and try and and understand about our world. It would be a shame to see this unique cave flooded.

  5. Inge says:

    It reminds me of some scifi-landscapes, but this is real. Fabolous place. Makes you wonder how they came to be.

  6. Kugai says:

    I know, it’s why I made the ‘Crystal Singer’ reference.

    Pity it’s gonna be flooded.

    • Inge says:

      Maybe flooding is the right idea? People are bad at preserving things. Remember that cave with the cavemen-drawings? It was human traffic that almost destroyed before it was closed of.

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