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In an abandoned mine in southern Spain, there is a room of pure crystal.
To get there, you'll have to descend deep into tunnels, climb a ladder into an inconspicuous hole in the rocks and squeeze through a jagged tube of gypsum crystals barely wide enough for one person. If you make it that far, you'll be standing inside the world's largest geode: the Pulpí Geode, a 390-cubic-foot (11 cubic meters) cavity about the size of a cement mixer drum, studded with crystals as clear as ice and sharp as spears on every surface.
Geode - Before
While you may have never stood inside a geode, you've probably held, or at least seen, one before.
"Many people have little geodes in their home," Juan Manuel García-Ruiz, a geologist at the Spanish National Research Council and co-author of a new paper on the history of the Pulpí Geode, told Live Science. "It's normally defined as an egg-shaped cavity inside a rock, lined with crystals."
Crystals - Water - Seeps - Pores - Rock
Those crystals can form after water seeps through tiny pores in a rock's surface, ferrying even tinier minerals into the hollow interior. Depending on the size of the rock cavity, crystals can continue growing for thousands or millions of years, creating caches of amethyst, quartz and many other shiny minerals.
The crystal columns at Pulpí are made of gypsum — the product of water, calcium sulfate, and lots and lots of time — but not much else has been revealed about them since the geode's unexpected discovery in 2000. In a study published Oct. 15 in the journal Geology, García-Ruiz and his colleagues attempted to shed some new light on the mysterious cave by narrowing down how and when the geode formed.
García-Ruiz - Stranger - Crystals - Study - Mexico
García-Ruiz is no stranger to giant crystals. In 2007, he published a study on Mexico's fantastical Cave of Crystals, a basketball-court-size cavern...
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