What will be the future of the giant gypsum crystals of Naica mine?
Paolo Forti, 2018. "What will be the future of the giant gypsum crystals of Naica mine?", Advances in Karst Research: Theory, Fieldwork and Applications, M. Parise, F. Gabrovsek, G. Kaufmann, N. Ravbar
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The mine caves of Naica (Chihuahua, Mexico) are famous because they host large gypsum crystals. Mine works intersected new caves hosting the largest crystals in the world in the year 2000. From 2006 these caves became the object of a multidisciplinary research project with the goal of inferring their ages, the boundary conditions for their formation and the mechanisms inducing their development. Several other scientific aspects were also considered, including palynology, mineralogy, microbiology, physiology, hydrogeology and astrobiology. From 2006 to 2009, scientists and explorers tried to ensure the complete documentation of these natural wonders because they were expected to be accessible for only a few years. As a result of their location c. 160 m below the natural groundwater level, they were predicted to be flooded with thermal water as soon as dewatering of the mine ceased. This occurred at the end of 2015, so that the lower part of the mine is already submerged and in the near future the giant crystal caves will also disappear. Theoretically, it is still possible to maintain these incredible wonders for future generations, but this seems highly unlikely. Soon the crystals will be submerged below c. 150 m of hot water, restarting their incredible slow growth.
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Karst landscapes and karst aquifers are composed of a variety of soluble rocks, such as salt, gypsum, anhydrite, limestone, dolomite and quartzite. They are fascinating areas of exploration, study and research. As karst rocks are abundant on the Earth’s surface, the fast evolution of karst landscapes and the rapid flow of water through karst aquifers present many challenges from a number of different perspectives. This collection of 25 papers deals with different aspects of these challenges, including karst geology, geomorphology and speleogenesis, karst hydrogeology, karst modelling, and karst hazards and management. Together these papers provide a state-of-the-art review of the current challenges and solutions we face in describing karst from a scientific perspective, while at the same time providing useful data and information for managing karst territories to land planners, developers, and managers of show caves, natural parks and reserves in karst terrains.