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The Hall of Giants in the Carlsbad Caverns
Stalactite (PSF).svg
The Witch's Finger in the Carlsbad Caverns

A stalagmite (from the Greek stalagma ("Σταλαγμίτης"), "drop" or "drip") is a type of speleothem that rises from the floor of a limestone cave due to the dripping of mineralized solutions and the deposition of calcium carbonate. The corresponding formation on the ceiling of a cave is known as a stalactite. If these formations grow together, the result is known as a column.

Stalagmite should normally not be touched: Since the rock build up is formed by minerals solidifying out of the water solution onto the old surface, skin oils can disturb where the mineral water will cling, thus affecting the growth of the formation. Oils and dirt from the hands can also stain the formation and change its colour permanently.

Similar structures can also form in lava tubes, known as lavacicles, although the mechanism of formation is very different. Stalactites and stalagmites can also form on concrete ceilings and floors, although they form much more rapidly there than in the natural cave environment.

Stalagtites and stalagmites are similar to travertine in the way they form and in their composition, but there are differences. [1]

The largest stalagmite in the world is 62.2 metres (220 feet) high and is located in the cave of Cueva San Martin Infierno, Cuba.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ Fothergill, A. et al. (2006) Planet Earth, London, BBC Books, pages 184-185

External links


Simple English

Stalagmites may also refer to a type of fungus.

]] A stalagmite[1] is a form that can be found on the floor of a cave. It rises from the floor of a limestone cave when mineralized solutions drip from the ceiling and deposits of calcium carbonate form columns on the ground. The corresponding formation on the ceiling of a cave is known as a stalactite.

There are several methods to help remember which formation hangs from the ceiling (stalactite) and which rises from the floor (stalagmite):

  • StalaCtite has a "c" for "ceiling".
  • StalaGmite has a "g" for "ground".
  • The T in StalacTite resembles one hanging from the ceiling, while the M in StalagMite resembles a formation rising from the floor.

When touring caves with stalactites and stalagmites you might be asked to not touch the rock formations. This is generally because the formation is considered to still be growing and forming. Since the rock buildup is formed by minerals solidifying out of the water solution, skin oils can disturb where the mineral water will cling. So the development of the rock formation will be affected and not natural anymore.

Stalactites and stalagmites can also form on concrete ceilings and floors, but they form much more rapidly there than in the natural cave environment.

References

  1. from the Greek stalagma ("Σταλαγμίτης"), "drop" or "drip"

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