Chemistry Nexus

by WebElements: the periodic table on the web

The giant gypsum crystals in Mexico’s “Cueva de los Cristales” are a stunning natural wonder featuring crystals up to 11 metres long.

gypsum

These giant gypsum (hydrated calcium sulphate) crystals in the “Cave of Crystals” in the Naica mine, Chihuahua, Mexico pose an interesting problem: how are they formed. A Spanish-Mexican team led by Prof García-Ruiz et al. propose that these crystals are derived from “a self-feeding mechanism driven by a solution-mediated, anhydrite-gypsum phase transition”. The solution from which the crystals grew were maintained in a very narrow, stable temperature range. It seems likely that related features will be discovered in the future.1

See Geology: April, 2007, v. 35, no. 4, where the crystals feature on the cover.

References

1. García-Ruiz, Juan Manuel, Roberto Villasuso, Carlos Ayora, Angels Canals, and Fermín Otálora.  “Formation of natural gypsum megacrystals in Naica, Mexico“. Geol., 2007, 35, 327-330, http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G23393A.1.

December 15th, 2009

Posted In: Chemistry

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