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Cave Pearls

   "...cave pearls. I'm not especially knowledgeable about the real
cave pearls. I believe they are a calcium concretion." 

Karen, cave pearls are beautiful formations of calcite and a most
fascinating subject. All natural, these calcite formations are
formed in a similar way that fresh and saltwater pearls are formed.

Cave pearls form in a concentric fashion in shallow pools of water
found in caves. The water must be calcite rich and be in constant
agitation for the pearls to form. This agitation is usually from
water flowing or dripping from the ceiling. Slowly, over thousands
of years, small amounts of calcium carbonate dissolved in the water
form over the sand or pebbles that are the seed for these pearls.
The flowing or dripping water replenishes the calcium carbonate to
form additional layers as the pearl grows. The result is a smooth,
round and brilliant cave pearl.

If you have never seen a cave pearl before, a picture awaits you at:

Caves and their formations have always intrigued me and I try to
visit and study caves whenever time permits.

Charles Heick

Charles, Thank you for loading the Cave Pearl photo.

For anyone who has never visited a Cave, Charles comment is
wonderful. Take the time to visit at least one.

My two grandsons and I took an entire month cross country visiting
only Caverns, from Carlsbad N. Mex. through to Bristol, Va.

Simply incredible.

Allo folks!

Since cave pearls have been brought up, I feel that it is my duty, as
an avid caver and someone interested in cave preservation, to mention
that removing cave pearls (or anything else from a cave, for that
matter) is a federal crime, not to mention mean to the environment of
the cave.

By all means, enjoy the beauty of cave formations in their natural
setting, but please do not take minerals and formations out of the
caves. If you really want to appreciate them, feel free to take
pictures, but leave them in their natural setting.

As the motto of the NSS goes, “Take nothing but pictures, leave
nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”

BTW, caving’s a great time…go to to find a group
near you to hook up with. :o) And Dave Bunnell (the guy who took the
photograph that Charles was so kind to share with us) is a wonderful
cave photographer and good friend of my fiance’s family.

-Cortney in hot 'n humid (but currently slightly cooler due to the
wonderful thunderstorms…Yay!) Pittsburgh, PA

Very well put, Cortney. I inadvertently left out probably the most
important aspect of caving, preservation. Far too many caves have
been pillaged and destroyed by looters and collectors alike.
Millions of years of nature’s beautiful formations were destroyed for
profit or just to be stored in a basement as a souvenir and
forgotten. I live two hundred miles from Mammoth Cave and visit there
often. This cave has a lot of history to it and also lots of damage.
In the parts of the cave that were discovered before the late
1930’s, formations that were within hands reach are missing or
damaged. The walls and ceilings are covered with “historical
graffiti”, thats what the government calls it. I call it senseless
desecration. This is a loss that can never be replaced. For these
reasons (and ecological ones too), newly discovered caves like New
Mexico’s 98+ mile long Lechuguilla will never be open to the public.
With it’s beautiful and elaborate pristine formations and crystal
clear pools, it’s best just to know, they are there. Charles Heick