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The cave contains some of the largest natural crystals ever found: translucent gypsum beams measuring up to 36 feet (11 meters) long and weighing up to 55 tons.
Volcanic activity that began about 26 million years ago created Naica mountain and filled it with high-temperature anhydrite gypsum (giant shards of which are pictured above).
When magma underneath the mountain cooled and the temperature dropped, the anhydrite began to dissolve. The anhydrite slowly enriched the waters with sulfate and calcium molecules, which for millions of years have been deposited in the caves in the form of huge selenite gypsum crystals
The crystals, he said, thrived because they were submerged in mineral-rich water with a very narrow, stable temperature range—around 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius).
At this temperature the mineral anhydrite, which was abundant in the water, dissolved into gypsum, a soft mineral that can take the form of the crystals in the Naica cave.