World's largest crystal discovered in Mexican cave

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Buried a thousand feet below Naica mountain in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico, the cave was discovered by two miners excavating a new tunnel for a commercial lead and silver mine.

Known as Mexico's Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of Crystals) it contains some of the world's largest known natural crystals–translucent beams of gypsum as long as 36 feet and softer than human nails.

The crystals thrived in the cave's extremely rare and stable natural environment. Temperatures hovered consistently around a steamy 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius), and the cave was filled with mineral-rich water that drove the crystals' growth.

However, if a human was exposed to the scorching temperatures of the cavern, it could kill him after just 15 minutes of exposure.

The cave's deadly heat comes from the depths of the Earth. Naica sits on a set of fault lines. A magma chamber a mile-and-a-half down warms the water that flows throughout the mountain

Modern-day mining operations exposed the natural wonder by pumping water out of the 30-by-90-foot cave, which was found in 2000 near the town of Delicias.

Naica is one of the most productive lead mines in the world, and a huge supplier of the world's silver as well.

Now the mining company has been asked to preserve the caves.

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