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Discovery of the largest known crystals on Earth?
Peñoles-Naica Mine in Chihuahua, Mexico, 2000

   In what may be the discovery of the largest known crystals on earth, work is underway to document and preserve this historic find. While some minor damage has already been done by illegal looters, the primary cave and a secondary cavern are having iron doors installed by the Peñoles company to prevent damage to the giant and magnificent crystals. (Reports of similar sized crystals are being investigated in Chile and South Dakota.) While the investigations are underway the mine is closed to all but scheduled scientific research projects.

   Found deep in a mine in southern Chihuahua Mexico, these crystals were formed in a natural cave totally enclosed in bedrock. "It is like walking into the Land of the Giants." said Richard D. Fisher, the first American invited to photographically document the unique natural structures. "I have often admired crystal geodes held in my hand. This is a geode full of spectacular crystals as tall as pine trees and in some cases bigger in circumference. They have formed beautiful crystals that are translucent gold and white in color. They come in many incredible forms and shapes. Some of the largest are essentially columnar in shape and stand 30-50 feet high and 3-4 feet in diameter. Many of the smaller examples are 4-6 feet in circumference, have many incredible geometrical shapes and probably weigh in excess of ten tons," Fisher, Director of Wilderness Research Expeditions Ltd. non-profit (IRS 501 (c) 3) of Tucson, Arizona, added "that while some of the crystals are attached to the ceiling walls and floors of the cave as might be expected, some exist in great masses of spikes and almost float in air. These crystals seem to defy gravity as they must weigh several tons and probably in some cases are probably much heavier."

to see more of the Crystal Caves in Mexico

   Carlos Lazcano, Eco-tourism Director of the Chihuahua Department of Tourism, was the first non-miner to enter the cavern. He and Fisher have now made multiple research trips into the mine. From a research and photography point of view, the short window of safety inside the cavern makes it almost impossible to even find the physical limits of the caverns. The crystal cavern was discovered within the same limestone body that hosts the silver-zinc-lead orebodies exploited by the mine. The cavern was probably dissolved by the same hydrothermal fluids that deposited the metals with the gypsum being crystallized during the waning stages of mineralization. The crystals probably grew very quickly within a completely liquid filled cavern.

   Fisher, a professional photographer who specializes in photographing very narrow and remote canyons world-wide, relates that obtaining clear photographs is almost impossible due to the extreme ambient environ-ment. "These crystals are probably stable as the temperature in the cave is over 150° Fahrenheit and 100% humidity — in other words, these structures are enveloped in steam. As a photographer used to working in dark, wet environments, this experience was unique," he said. "A human can only function in this environment for a few moments before passing out." Continued research is planned by Lazcano and Fisher into this internationally unique cavern. The Peñoles mining company is additionally investigating nely discovered caverns along the Naica Fault line and is also researching the possibility of opening these incredible finds to tourism at publication.

For more information contact Wilderness Research Expeditions • (520) 882-5341 • contact us .

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