• Surviving The Crystal Cave •


Cueva de los Cristales of Mexico

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.

Cueva de los Cristales is the incarnation of our most awesome science fiction imaginations – Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. At about the same time as humans first ventured out of Africa, these crystals began to slowly grow. For half a million years they remained protected and nurtured by a womb of hot hydrothermal fluids rich with minerals.

Undisturbed, one can only guess how big they may have eventually grown. Yet when mining began here over a hundred years ago, the water table was lowered and the cave drained. The crystals seemingly interminable development was frozen forever leaving them as aborted relics of the deep earth. It wasn’t until 2001 that miners, searching for lead, eventually penetrated the cave wall and brought it to light. The very act of discovering and witnessing them has triggered their slow decay and now no one knows what their fate will be. To me they are a testament to the hidden forces of the planet, forces that operate on scales far beyond our own.

Filming in the Giant Crystal Cave for ‘How Earth Made Us’, soon to be released on DVD.




Probably the most incredible photograph of the cave ever taken. Photograph by Carsten Peter/Speleoresearch & Films.




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~ by Voltima on January 12, 2010.

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