What are Cave "Pearls"? Are they Real Pearls?
Are cave pearls really pearls?
What Is A Cave Pearl?
A small, spherical calcite formation that’s about the size of a marble, these formations are found along the walls and ceilings of limestone caves. They are primarily made of calcite. Other minerals which are found in these pearls are magnesium, apatite, quartz, iron, and aluminum.
They are beautiful, coveted souvenirs from various caves all over the world. Two caves, however, are known to have the highest numbers of the pearls. These caves are The Cave of Marbles in Tabasco, Mexico. The other is the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, USA.
Cave pearls are formed by dripping water in limestone caves. They form by the concentric deposition of calcium salts around a nucleus. This nucleus could be a grain of sand, or a small speck of rock becomes coated with calcite. From there, the current of the water running over and around it provides rotation to the nucleus in a way that it become coated evenly.
In this way, the concentrated layers build up over time. Similarly, this is the way that a biological pearl forms within a mollusk. However, not all of these pretty pearls are spheres. There are also elliptical, hexagonal, cylindrical, and cubical cave pearls.
Moving water works to smooth out these beautiful pearls and polish their surface. They are shiny, and almost reflective in appearance. Further, the water currents carry some of the pearls from place to place. They’ll occasionally fall to the bottom of a body of water, where they’ll collect. Sometimes they even stick to other cave pearls.
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