Types of formations
As water saturated with calcium carbonate drips through the ceiling of a cave, successive rings of calcite crystals form a tiny cube. If the tube becomes blocked, the water flows down the outside and the calcite deposits thicken the tube into a stalactite, the icicle-like formations hanging from the ceiling. 

Water dripping onto the floor builds stalagmites which look like the inverted stalactites growing upward from the floor.

When a stalactite grows down form the ceiling and joins with a stalagmite growing up from the floor, a column or pillar is formed.

Such formations usually grow at the rate of about one cubic inch per 100 years. However, variations in the chemistry of water and  in the speed of movement can produce a wide range of cave formations from gracefully curving flowstone draeries to delicate, convoluted helictites.

Cave draperies are formed by water trickling down an inclined ceiling. The deposits begin as winding trails of calcite which are later extended downward in graceful curves by successive deposits.

Tightly coiled helictites seem to defy gravity, frequently growing upward from the flop. Water rises slowly through their minute central canals by capillary action then deposits crystals at each tip in a wide variety of angles.


Dry Valley
This Alpine area got its name long before it was known
why water disappears quickly following rains.  The valley
drains into underground stream which flows through
Tuckaleechee Caverns.
 


Upper Falls
Looking upward into room
from which 200-foot high
Silver Falls originates.
Flowstone and ribbon stalactities
highlight the view from the lower
level of the falls.


Big Room
Largest cavern room open to
the public in Eastern America,
it has 24 foot stalagmites.
Room was discovered in 1954.

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