A real wonder of the world, indeed! That's how great Mother Nature molded this mysterious and awe-inspiring work of art. Found deep below the Guadalupe Mountains in North America, the Lechuguilla Cave has come to be a never-ending world of fascinating discoveries in itself.
The cave is more precisely located in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. Named after the plant Agave lechuguilla found near its entrance, this limestone cave is the deepest in the continental United States, as of June 2013, its depth reaching 1,604 feet. The entrance pit called Misery Hole, in fact, reaches 90 feet. It is also the the fifth longest cave in the world—at least, of those already explored—measuring 138.3 miles.
However, it's not the depth or length that is most outstanding about the cave. Rather, they are the amazing formations and signs of life geologists have found inside since the cave's discovery in 1986. Since then, explorers have continued mapping and exploring the cave, with the permission of the National Park Service (NPS). Visits to Lechuguilla Cave are limited to purposes of scientific research, survey and explorations, as well as travel-related matters handled by the NPS. This preserves the beauty of the cave, away from over-zealous tourists that may unwittingly cause damage.
What the experts have found are the surprisingly unusual geology. It is a network of mineral-upon-mineral formations, particularly of gypsum and aragonite, and sulfur deposits. Most captivating are the crystal formations that have created a chandelier-effect. Gypsum, itself, was a surprise when first discovered as it was and is a mineral not likely to be found in caves. Further explorations led to an explanation and more discoveries, especially of life various forms such as microbes, sulphur-eating bacteria, fish, and insects, that were long thought-of as incapable of surviving in such a noxious setting. Meanwhile, there is a very beautiful lake with such clear water inside the cave, a truly lovely find.
As the explorations of the Lechuguilla Cave deepen, let us expect to discover more mysteries along the way.