Fairy tales often take place in magical lands where the sights you see differ from those you see in your everyday lives. The real-life fairy tale land of Naica’s Cave can be seen in all their glory by only a few visitors at a time.
At the start of 2020, they closed the caves to visitors because of the cave’s chemical composition, causing flooding in the mine system. Additionally, its crystals were being altered.
What is Naica’s Cave of Crystals?
Naica’s Cave of Crystals is a large opening in the Earth, sitting around 290 meters under a network of mine shafts. The age its crystals has been estimated at around 500,000 years for some of the oldest in the cave. Furthermore, the crystals within the network of mine shafts weigh upwards of 55 tons after growing for more than half a million years, National Geographic reports.
Although The Cave of Crystals is a popular location, access to the site is controlled based on the conditions within the cave itself as it can be dangerous to human health.
Temperatures within The Cave of Crystals have been measured at as high as 136F with humidity levels that have reached 99% within the cave, according to Travel & Leisure.
The extreme conditions within the cave mean any visitor can only be inside for around 10 minutes or wear a special cooling suit and remain in the cave for about 45 minutes.
How were the Caves Discovered
Miners searching for ore deposits deep underground close to Naica, Mexico, initially discovered the caves. The Cave of Crystals is the largest known cave in the network of fault lines where conditions are perfect for the formation of huge crystals that can grow to more than 30 feet in length.
Miners first discovered The Cave of Swords in 1910 when they explored a cavern beneath the main mine tunnel close to Naica.
According to Chemical and Engineering News, a team of miners discovered The Cave of Crystals itself in 2000. It lies more than 290 meters underground and sits under a mountain that has been mined for various materials, including lead and zinc.
How Was The Cave of Crystals Formed?
The development of The Cave of Crystals began around 26 million years ago, C&EN reports. At that point, a large amount of magma was pushed through the Earth. This started the process of constructing the mountain that is now in place just outside the town of Naica, in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Beneath the mountain, a large amount of hot water pushed through from deep beneath the surface of the planet. The heat that climbs far above 100 degrees regularly combined with the minerals found in the water to start the formation of the natural crystals in the cavern. The unique conditions found in Naica’s Cave of Crystals means the formation of the crystals has not yet stopped and will continue for years to come.
Naica’s Cave of Crystals is difficult to access and hard to get permission to visit. Any visitor lucky enough to gain access is limited to a short period or a glimpse of the cave through a window. As the rest of the network of fault lines and caves is explored, many people hope that even more caves will be found beneath the mountain that can match the beauty and mystery of The Cave of Crystals.