• Day9

    Carlsbad Caverns, NM

    October 26, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Descending 800 feet below the desert plains, these caves could be the 8th natural wonder if the world. Calcium based caverns extend miles down into the subterrain, the full extent remains undiscovered, with some chambers as large as four football fields!

    In true American style, at the base of the largest of the chambers, and deepest accessible to the public, was a lift, a cafe and a gift shop. I don't blame 800 foot, 2.5mile ascent would have been rough on the legs considering the previous days activity.

    For any geeks, the formation of the caverns is quite fascinating. Millions of years ago, the desert lay deep beneath the ocean allowing a coral reef to grow in the shallows. As time passed and the sea levels subsided, the coral reef became exposed briefly, before becoming covered by wind blown sediment. This sediment later became compacted to form a sandstone layer around the reef. As the sea levels continued to subside, the ground water followed. However, pores in the calcium based ex-reef allowed rainwater to percolate downward which, when mixed with chemicals from the sandstone, chemically broke down the reef from the inside out. This caused a swiss cheese effect and as the pores grew they overlapped and became the caverns visible today. The stalactites and stalagmites are formed by the same process above but in reverse. The calcium-heavy water evaporates on contact with the air leaving behind only the calcium.
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