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Letter: Stalactites and Stalagmites

Matthew Downen writes:
It is possible for cave formations like stalactites and stalagmites to wash out of caves, but I would expect them in lower areas like a creek bed or near sinkholes. Myself and some other geologists I reached out to have a few guesses as to what it appears to be based on the shapes:
  • 1) It could be minerals that grew in a fissure like a mineral vein (some minerals like calcite grow into toothy pointed shapes like that)

  • 2) a weathered stylolite which forms when minerals in rock dissolve under pressure and then reform (these can be found in limestones in Kentucky)

  • 3) a cone-in-cone structure which may also form from minerals dissolving under pressure.
Any of these is a pretty neat find. You might try putting a little vinegar on it, and if it starts bubbling/fizzing then it is made of the mineral calcite.
Comments re: Kentucky Color: Stalactites and Stalagmites

This story was posted on 2020-12-13 19:03:08
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