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Carlsbad Caverns National Park

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Stalactites and Stalagmites in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, USA.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located is southeastern New Mexico, USA. The park contains more than 100 known caves throughout the Guadalupe Mountains, which are part of a fossil reef assigned to the Permian geologic age. Carlsbad Cavern contains one of the world's largest underground chambers and countless stalactite and stalagmite formations. It is highly accessible with paved trails, elevators, and electric lights.

The park also now boasts Lechuguilla Cave, said to be one of the the nation's deepest limestone cave at 1,567 feet (478m) and fourth longest. The depth and extensive passageways of Lechuguilla Cave were unknown until 1986.

The caverns host populations of sixteen species of bats numbered in the hundreds of thousands. According to local legends the bats led to the discovery of the caves when a young cowboy followed what he believed to be a plume of smoke to find out it was a massive colony of bats exiting the cave. Today an amphitheatre at the entrance to Carlsbad Cavern provides a place where visitors can witness the nightly exodus of the bats.

Stalactites and stalagmites

The Lower Caves in Carlsbad Caverns
Main Article: Stalactites and Stalagmites

Stalactites and stalagmites are two types of rock formations typically found in caves. Stalactites hang from the ceiling, much like icicles. Stalagmites grow from the floor. Both are formed when minerals like calcium carbonate precipitate out of dropping water. The timeframe for formation of stalactites and stalagmites is a subject of dispute. According to the uniformitarian model they both take 10’s of thousands to millions of years to form. According to the creationist model, however, they are able to form much more quickly, and often do.

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park website

National Park Service


External links

See Also