No matter how much you praise Michelangelo, Rafael or any other artist who create wonderful masterpieces, they can never match their level of artistry to that of the nature. This is because nature puts million of years of effort to create it’s geological wonder, carving and molding every speck present on the canvas of earth. Whether it is a shiny round pebble or the mighty Grand Canyon, our vocabulary becomes limited and short of words to describe these marvelous creation. Two of such wonders are Stalactites and Stalagmites which are formed in cave which are over million years old.
THE FORMATION: Both stalactites and stalagmites are found in limestone cave.
1. Limestone caves are composed of a mineral called Calcite. Calcite is basically calcium carbonate (marble in simple terms).
2. When rain water falls over the cave, the water flows over the rock’s surface and dissolves carbon dioxide (from air) and Calcite (from rocks) as it flows.
3. A chemical reaction with water and carbon dioxide converts Calcite into another mineral called Calcium hydrogen carbonate.
4. If there is a crack in ceiling of the cave, this water (which have dissolved calcium hydrogen carbonate) flows down through the crack into the cave.
5. The water tricking down the ceiling again dissolves carbon dioxide which causes another reaction (a reverse reaction) that converts Calcium hydrogen carbonate back to Calcite. This Calcite deposit and stick itself around ceiling’s crack and forms a tube like structure which gradually forms an inverted stalactites cone (a solid cone).
6. The water dripping from the end of a stalactite falls to the floor of a cave and deposits more calcite into a mound. Mound also grows and forms another cone at ground of the cave to form Stalagmites. That is why both of them usually occurs in a pair.