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.
dripping onto the floor builds stalagmites which look like the
inverted stalactites growing upward from the floor.
stalactite grows down form the ceiling and joins with a stalagmite
growing up from the floor, a column or pillar is formed.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Largest cavern room open to
the public in Eastern America,
it has 24 foot stalagmites.
Room was discovered in 1954.