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Web Date: September 14, 2011

Slower Than A Snail’s Pace

Geochemistry: Scientists estimate that Mexico’s giant gypsum crystals took up to 1 million years to reach today’s size
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Environmental SCENE, Analytical SCENE
Keywords: crystal growth

Scientists studying the geochemical processes at play in the formation of giant gypsum crystals (CaSO4•2H2O) found in Mexico’s Naica ore mines have determined that these natural wonders grow much more slowly than a snail’s pace. Using a specialized microscope, they observed that the largest specimens—up to about 35 feet long and 3 feet thick and with a mass of 55 tons—took as long as 1 million years to reach their current size.

Naica’s giant crystals . . .

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Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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