Monday, August 8, 2016

Ochtinská Aragonite Cave

The Ochtinská Aragonite Cave, in southern Slovakia, is one of the few caves in the world where aragonite crystals are found. There is one in the Czech Republic (Zbrašov aragonite caves) and other caves are located in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the United States, but the aragonite fillings in Ochtinská Aragonite Cave is by far the most beautiful.

Aragonite is a naturally occurring crystal form of calcium carbonate, the same mineral that forms the more commonly available calcite. While calcite forms huge lumpy blocks, aragonite crystals are columnar or fibrous. In Ochtinská Aragonite Cave, they grow in twisted, needle like formations that look like a bunch of tangled hair. These structures are very delicate and can break at the slightest touch. Crystal structures such as these are known as helictites, and to this day, there has been no satisfactory explanation for how they are formed.

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