Twenty and one years ago, a tunnel underneath Naica Mountain was mined in Mexico City by two brothers working for Industrias Peñoles. They mistakenly trod the Sistine Crystal Chapel. In 2000, when a mining firm drained the water out of the basement, the big giant crystals were found. As they stepped into the desiccating cave, both brothers discovered these crystals.
Crystal cave: A mind-blowing discovery
It’s an unlikely, magic find, Naica’s Cave of crystals, hidden 300 meters underneath earth’s crust. Giant crystals inside can attain a length of over 36 feet of science fiction. It is known that some of the heaviest crystals weigh up to 55 tonnes. The crystals had taken 500,000 years to evolve and developed because a lake of molten magma was 2 to 3 miles (3 to 5 kilometers) under the mine. Over time, groundwater, which was abundant in gypsum minerals, was entering the caverns.
The Giant Crystal Cave was an inhospitable location that quickly became evident. The air temperatures rose to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (47.1 degrees Celsius) and were near 100% humidity. But conditions are dangerous for humans, although perfect for crystals. All entering the cave would wear a special cooling suit and spend 45 minutes in the cave. The cave was so wet that a visitor who had lived so long was at risk of condensing fluids inside his lungs. It could be dangerous.
The scientists designed their refrigerated suits and cold ventilation devices to live and operate under intense temperature and humid conditions to avoid prolonged incursions into the crystal chamber to explore the cave. A mattress with refrigerating tubes mounted around the entire body is used to match the caving overalls and attached to a backpack weighing approximately 20 kilograms. A cooling of around half an hour of autonomy was supported by melting ice.
The Cave of Crystals is a calcareous cavity. Crystalline bricks cover its floor, entirely faced. Great crystal beams jut from blocks as well as from the floor. The crystals deteriorated in the air, and the Naica project sought to record the crystals before further oxidation visually.
In the cave, indoor giant crystals have been discovered in species that live on iron, sulfur, and other chemicals. It is most likely that the microbial life forms are new to science because if they are right, then species are still alive, even if they have been sleeping for tens of thousands of years.
Penelope Boston, the NASA Astrobiology Institute director, reported that bacteria present in individual crystals had been detected. Since these species were resurrected, scientists concluded no close connection in the established genetic databases.
The crystal-finding mine was sadly abandoned, and it was announced in February 2017 that mining, which owns the property, had re-flooded the cave. Many samples were taken until the cave was closed, including what is supposed to be a 50,000year-old sample of bacteria from inside the one crystal. Exploration has proven that there are more galleries, but further investigation would have taken substantial crystal removal.
As the accessibility of the cave depends on the water pumps, the cave was allowed to flood again in February 2017 after mining operations ended.