Stalactites and Stalagmites

If you were to venture deep into a cave, you might see many things. You might see a few bats. You might see some neat bugs. You might also see some unique rock formations hanging from the ceiling or coming up from the ground. These are stalactites and stalagmites.

Stalactites and stalagmites start their lives as water. As water enters the ground and flows down through layers of limestone rock, something happens. A chemical change takes place. Calcium carbonate rock dissolves in the water. A new substance is formed. When this new liquid substance flows down into a cave, it is exposed to air. This reverses the chemical reaction. The liquid is once again water. Now there are tiny bits of calcium carbonate inside each droplet. As the water slowly flows over the cave ceiling, the calcium carbonate in the water begins to stick on the rock. As water drips down from the ceiling, deposits of calcium carbonate form where water is dripping. The calcium carbonate becomes hard. Little by little these deposits pile on top of each other. Eventually, these grand formations are born.

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