Photo via NM
Researchers were recently surprised to find that the world's longest cave formation--the Fort Stanton Cave in New Mexico--is growing even longer. They discovered that calcite is still accumulating in the trough of the cave, which cuts through miles and miles of rock. More photos of the stunning, tunnel-like cave after the jump.
A report from Science News reveals that the cave, already 4.6 miles long, is still expanding: scientists "found that some bits of plastic tape used during previous expeditions to mark off areas of the cave carried a thin dusting of calcite material -- a sign the deposit is still growing. Radiometric dating of small samples drilled from the formation bolster that notion."
Photo via Science News
The oldest layers of the cave are less than 850 years old--practically babies in geologic terms.
More pics of the calcite formations . . .
As for the strange white material that lines the floor, Science News explains:
The formation's brilliant white color, as well as its sinuous path through Fort Stanton Cave, near the town of Capitan, has led cavers to dub the feature Snowy River . . . Land and his colleagues haven't fully mapped the cave, but known portions of the Snowy River -- whose undiscovered reaches extend into yet-unexplored passageways -- now extend 7.5 kilometers.Finally--a cave that lives up to the mysteriousness that every good cave aspires to.