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The Deadliest place on Earth? Surviving Cueva de los Cristales - The Giant Crystal Cave
Summary: Filming in the Giant Crystal Cave for 'How Earth Made Us'. One of the deadliest places on the planet.
It's 50oC and has a humidity of 100%, less than a hundred people have been inside and it's so deadly that even with respirators and suits of ice you can only survive for 20 minutes before your body starts to fail. It’s the nearest thing to visiting another planet – it’s going deep inside our own.
For 'How Earth made us' I have been lucky enough to film everywhere from tiny Pacific islands to the centre of the Sahara desert, yet nowhere could could prepare me for filming in The Giant Crystal Cave - Cueva de los Cristales of Mexico.
The crystals could also be threatened by the lack of water. When the cave was filled, water helped support and preserve the beams. Now, with the cave empty and open to air, they may over time bend or crack under their own weight and become dull, as gases such as carbon dioxide wash in. The director of the mine told me his company, Peñoles, is dedicated to preserving them, but the company's main interest isn't crystals, and the basic activities of mining—blasting, trucks stirring up dust—threaten the gallery. Badino and others hope to convince the company to do more (lobbying for UNESCO World Heritage status has been mentioned), but so far the crystals exist in limbo, probably more famous outside Mexico than within.
Giant Crystal Cave
It looks like Superman's fortress. Hidden deep beneath the surface of the Earth is one of the greatest natural marvels on the planet: a giant crystal cave with crystals up to 36 feet long and weighing 55 tons. But this scorching cavern could kill humans after just 15 minutes of exposure. Follow an international team of scientists as they don high-tech protective gear to safely unlock the secrets of the crystal cave. They'll attempt to answer the questions, What are the crystals made of? How did they reach such superheroic proportions? And is there life here?