30 years of discoveries: from Australia to the biggest set of the world

The first stegamites described in speleological literature date back to 1991, in the underground caves of the Nullalbor Plain, in the southern part of Australia. It was Rauleigh Weeb, a speleologist from the Western Australian Speleological Group, who discovered some very unusual formations that caught his attention. He located them in two caves, named Matilda Cave and Gorange Cave. He described them as follows: “They are strange ridges that emerge from the floor of both caves. I have called them Stegamites because they look like the ridges that Stegosauruses had on their backs. They reach a height range between 5 cm and one and a half meters high, approximately.”
Later, in an extensive network of cavities known as Sistema Esqueleto, on Mona Island, Puerto Rico, another isolated speleothem was located, with a similar shape, identified by its morphology as a stegamite.
In 2005, a publication in a specialized European magazine by a group of speleologists reported on the possible existence of several stegamites, all of them in a very advanced evolutionary state, inactive, in several caves in Slovenia.
A little more than 30 years after the discovery of the first stegamite, in 2021, Cueva de las Estegamitas was discovered in Malaga, with more than a hundred identified specimens of stegamites. In this cave in La Araña, there is, therefore, the largest known set of stegamites on the planet up to date. In full activity (that is, with active growth currently), in an excellent state of conservation and with all stages of evolution perfectly represented. This circumstance makes Cueva de las Estegamitas a unique cave and a site of geological interest of global relevance.

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