Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge of Crystalline Deposits


Last weekend, on our return trip from vacationing in Georgia, we had the opportunity to stop at Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I have never toured the caverns… They were absolutely spectacular!  So this week, instead of merging unlikely subjects in my photography, I could not resist sharing some of our pictures from the tour…

Stalactites & stalagmites finally merge to form a pillar as a result of crystallized deposits accumulating over hundreds of thousands of years.

Just to give you an idea of how amazing this cavern is, here is a brief synopsis on how these formations occur…  Very simply, the cave deposits are formed by small trickles of rain water that pick up diluted carbonic acid as it seeps through decaying vegetation in the soil, and into the rocky cavern below. This combined with the cave’s atmosphere, creates a formula for lime precipitation to build in rings that eventually form the long stalactites from the ceiling.  As the deposits then travel down to the floor of the cave, the same process occurs in reverse, where a stalagmite is built up  from the ground.  New deposits actively accumulate at the rate of one cubic inch in 120 years!!!  Over the course of thousands, even millions of years, these stalactites growing downward and stalagmites building upward merge to form a column or pillar, resulting in amazing natural stone formations.

These photographs do not adequately convey the majesty of this cavern… definitely a must-see for any traveler!!!

A draped translucent calcite form of “Saracen’s Tent” at Luray Caverns, Virginia.

This double column formation is one of the largest in the caverns, standing 47 feet tall in the 60 foot high chamber of “Giant’s Hall”.

“Dream Lake” is no more than 18 – 20 inches deep and covers an area more than 2000 square feet. With no movement of the water, its mirror-like quality reflects the stalactites dropping down from the ceiling of the cave.

The “Wishing Well” appears to have a depth of 3 – 4 feet, but is actually closer to 6 – 7 feet at its deepest point. Over $898,000 have been collected and donated to charities since 1954!!!

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10 responses »

  1. Thanks so much… I am still awestruck when I reminisce through our photos. Minerals in the enclosing rocks date back to the Ordovician period 400 million years ago! What a treasure for us to be able to fully experience!!! 🙂

    • Thank you – my husband shot most of these with his fancy schmancy camera… I agree, the last photo is gorgeous and true to the live color! His camera captures much better contrasts than the auto settings of my l’il ol’ point ‘n shoot! 🙂 There is a much better scientific explanation at Luray’s website, but I tried to accurately get the basics across without going into too much detail.

  2. Wow. I visited the caverns as a child but haven’t been back in so many years. More interesting than I remembered. These are fantastic images. Thanks for posting… and for liking my flower picture for the weekly photo challenge!

    • I grew up in Virginia and regularly traveled throughout the Shenandoah mountains… I can’t believe I was missing this all those years! I can’t wait to return – you should do the same!!! There should be 1/4 inch more growth since your last visit!!! Haha…

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