Once upon a time in Mexico, it was 136 degrees in the shady interior of this cathedral sized crystal cavern. As eons passed , the submerged pool of calcium sulfate brine sprouted anhydrite and gypsum crystals the size of the columns of the Parthenon.
While Central America and Mexico abound with Lost mines , the region's caves are usually filled with dull calcite stalactites.
Not those beneath Las Delicias in Chihuahua's mining district - the spectacular find is already a major tourist attraction But don't drink the water-it's anything but delicious , still supercharged with calcium salts.
This riot of Plaster of Paris on steroids came to light as the Naica zinc mining company dewatered new levels to uncover more ore. Work stopped out of sheer awe of the fearful symmetry emerging as the cavern drained. Yet though fit to make Superman feel homesick , these crystals are not the largest on Earth
Six sided beryl 'logs' twice the size of the Las Delicias crystals are found in coarse-grained silicate rock formations called pegmatites in Russia. But they are enclosed , while these perfect anhydrite prisms are free-standing and mighty enough to relegate the gypsum blades found years ago in the nearby 'Cave of Swords' to toothpick status.
The water temperature of the new finds formation has been pinned at 136 degrees F because that temperature marks the phase boundary betwee the hydrated and water -free forms of crystalline calcium sulfate that coexist in the Las Delicias cavern
The find pushes the limit of touristic accessibility . It's a long way from anywhere down a mineshaft in a desert, and seems liable to decay if left open. The crystals are soft as plaster, and sensitive to splitting if exposed to sudden temperature or humidity changes. But the rock enclosing this Megageode is easily quarried.
Respectable billionaires with dreams of outdoing Ozymandias are invited to tender takeover bids to their favorite Museum Of Natural History. Bringing the crystal cavern back alive for installation as Your Name Here Hall should cost little more than relocating the Temple of Abu Simbel or King Kong's extended family.Interested curators and trustees are invited to get in shape and acclimate for the heavy lifting by helping recover a 300 ton jade boulder from a mountainside in Guatemala. It could be pretty warm work.
Cavern Photo credits National Geographic