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This chamber is over 3 miles long, over 600 feet tall, & 150 yards wide. Son Doong.

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Presentation on theme: "This chamber is over 3 miles long, over 600 feet tall, & 150 yards wide. Son Doong."— Presentation transcript:



3 This chamber is over 3 miles long, over 600 feet tall, & 150 yards wide. Son Doong

4 The large caverns were discovered in 1991 Explored and mapped in 2009 Published photos in National Geographic, January 2011 Meaning Mountain River Cave

5 Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park Phong Nha is a limestone plateau with over 300 caves, and less than half have been explored... Ke Bang is a rare “Green Tropical Forest” with some of the rarest plants and animals on our planet UNESCO gave it a top designation for a “park” and heritage area... With influx of money for scientific research and preservation in 2008.... However, it has now made the top 10 tourist destinations in the world with little protective services. Hang Son Doong Cave

6 This chamber could house an entire block of 40-story skyscrapers from New York City How do you take a picture like this in complete darkness ??

7 My 1967 “camera case”....


9 Southeast Asia & China famous for Karst Terrain


11 Howard Limbert at Cave Entrance He led a survey by British Cave Research Association in April 2009 It was unexplored because entrance was small, wind was fierce, & 300’ repel









20 The waters in cave have a pH = 7.5, allows “calcite” deposition... stalagmite

21 Looking almost straight up... See the hanging rope?

22 Like a petrified waterfall, a cascade of scalloped limestone, greened by algae growing from light of doline

23 Scallop Length “ l ” is Inversely Related to Flow Rate Scallop Formation: 1 = Laminar flow of water from left to right 2 = Switch to Turbulent flow of water 3 = Eddy forms – swirling water forms the scallop 4 = Water eventually escapes by laminar flow to next scallop downstream to the right Repeat... Again and Again


25 The cave is over 6 km. long...enter on left... Collapsed doline -mini jungle one quarter mile below the surface

26 Collapsed Doline Dolines are created when a cave system ceiling collapses inwards allowing daylight to stream in and create new and unique ecosystems. The chamber with the doline in the background is nearly a half mile away from the person in the foreground -- see person with light ¼ mile ahead

27 The arch shape has generated extra stability not seen in many caves

28 Approaching the miniforest of the doline – low light plant group on edge



31 This doline has captured a river, forming “a disappearing river”

32 Plants can adapt to new environments without a change of species... Same tree species is deciduous in the cave but an evergreen in the above jungle



35 Cave pearls and scallops.... Water 3 mph wet season & stationary in pools dry season

36 The Great Wall... 250’ high... ended the first expedition

37 The second expedition managed to climb the wall... Oops cave ended

38 SE Asia has massive limestone + monsoons to create many cave systems

39 The Crystal Cave of Giants is on a fault deep under the Chihuahua Desert of Mexico

40 Crystal Cave of Giants… a single small chamber the size of a basketball court

41 Naica Mine Chihuahua Desert Zinc Lead & Silver Big Bend


43 Fluorite Sphalerite Galena

44 Wire Silver Fluorite & Sphalerite

45 Cave of Crystals is in a limestone layer below the water table... The groundwater table is normally located 400 feet below the surface.... the cave is located nearly 2,500 feet below the surface... Cave of Crystals Son Doong

46 The Satellite ASTER image uses SWIR bands 4, 6, and 8 in RGB. Limestone is displayed in yellow- green colors, vegetation is red. Google Earth Image, elevation = 14 miles.

47 The pumping system extracts 22,000 gallons of water per minute, draining the mine shafts and caves You drive for a half hour down underground roads to reach the caves & mining levels




51 The mining operation in Naica requires of the extraction of groundwater. The normal original water table level is -110 meters. The main challenge is to maintain a complex pumping system in constant operation, to be able to extract groundwater from the -850 meter level, where mining activity is currently taking place

52 A small opening leads to the “Queen’s Chamber” Where the crystals are the “largest” currently know... (35 feet)

53 Crystal are a variety of gypsum called “selenite”... Soft glow of the moon

54 Although soft (can be scratched by a fingernail) they are sharp!

55 Temperature in excess of 125 o F + Humidity of 99%... Gives heat index of nearly 200 o F A magma chamber is only a few miles beneath the cave

56 Any extended time (greater than 10 minutes)... requires air-conditioned suites with ice-cooled air supply

57 Core samples tested for isotopes reveal an age of 500,000 years

58 Research result got published last year.... Crystal were actively growing up until year 2000 when the pumping for the mining emptied the chamber of slightly “acidic” waters... Thus no calcite crystals

59 Water flow through chamber less than 3 inches / day, no turbulence... No nucleation

60 Hydrothermal fluids off magma deposited sulfur-rich anhydrite throughout fault zone, which was re-dissolved into waters of the cave.

61 Cave solutions stayed at 120 o F... In range of gypsum (CaSO 4. 2H 2 O) outside range of anhydrite (CaSO 4 )

62 Researcher in suits could work for nearly an hour.... But “tourists” in regular clothes could only be exposed for 10 minutes.... Closely timed “in” and “out ”.

63 New “observation” entrance New name (?)... “Crystal Cave of Giants” “Cave of Crystals”

64 Many people want to have a picture of themselves in this setting

65 New Tourist Industry ?




69 Should this cave be preserved (?) Or Should pumping stop when mining is done; cave would refill & crystal would start to grow again / The End ?

70 Megacrystals in Naica, Mexico Juan Manuel García-RuizJuan Manuel García-Ruiz, Roberto Villasuso, Carlos Ayora, Angels Canals and Fermín OtáloraRoberto VillasusoCarlos AyoraAngels CanalsFermín Otálora Abstract Exploration in the Naica mine (Chihuahua, Mexico) recently unveiled several caves containing giant, faceted, and transparent single crystals of gypsum (CaSO 4 2H 2 O) as long as 11 m. These large crystals form at very low supersaturation. The problem is to explain how proper geochemical conditions can be sustained for a long time without large fluctuations that would trigger substantial nucleation. Fluid inclusion analyses show that the crystals grew from low-salinity solutions at a temperature of ∼ 54 °C, slightly below the one at which the solubility of anhydrite equals that of gypsum. Sulfur and oxygen isotopic compositions of gypsum crystals are compatible with growth from solutions resulting from dissolution of anhydrite previously precipitated during late hydrothermal mineralization, suggesting that these megacrystals formed by a self-feeding mechanism driven by a solution-mediated, anhydrite-gypsum phase transition. Nucleation kinetics calculations based on laboratory data show that this mechanism can account for the formation of these giant crystals, yet only when operating within the very narrow range of temperature identified by our fluid inclusion study. These singular conditions create a mineral wonderland, a site of scientific interest, and an extraordinary phenomenon worthy of preservation

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