Some speleothems have their own name

Among such a variety and quantity of speleothems, some stand out for their unique characteristics. Whether it is their shape, sometimes whimsical, their colour, different from the usual white, or their strange origin, different from the usual stalactites and stalagmites. For this reason, some speleothems in Cueva de las Estegamitas receive their own name, to stand them out from the group, and to specifically identify them from all the others. There are many, but here is a small selection of five speleothems that can take pride of having a specific name.

They are the Butterfly, the Discovery, the Great Stegamite, the L and the Terracotta Army.

The Butterfly is an exceptional specimen of a type of helictites that form forming a triangle very similar to the wing of a butterfly. They are frequent in Cueva de las Estegamitas, of a quality similar to those found in the mythical Caverns of Sonora, in Texas, United States, perhaps the most beautiful cave in the world.

The Discovery is a type of speleothem known as a disk, and is named for its circular shape, reminiscent of the spaceship Discovery 1, from the science fiction film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, by Stanley Kubrick.

The Great Stegamite is not the largest one in the cave, but it is possibly the most beautiful, due to the perfection of its shape, its colour, and its transparency. After the exploration and research work, it was fractured by unknown authors and today its condition is unknown.

The L is one of the many examples of combinations of speleothems that grow to curious shapes. In this case, a straw stalactite has been combined with an helictite, a practically horizontal one, leading to a speleothem in the shape of the letter “L”. A small “M” also appears crouched, behind the “L”, waiting for its turn to grow.

And finally, the Terracotta Army is an exceptional set of a very rare type of speleothems, calcite “fingers” that grow at the bottom of a small lake or gour, with waters highly saturated in calcium carbonate. The resemblance to the famous terracotta statues that appeared in the tomb of the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang is notable.

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