What is stalactite?

What Does stalactite Mean

The Greek stalaktós , which can be translated as "dripping," came to scientific Latin as stalactites . This term, in turn, derived in our language into stalactite . This is the name given to the rock that appears on the roof of a cave from the filtration of water with particles of calcium carbonate ( calcite ).

Stalactites are calcareous formations with an irregular structure that end in a point. The water, slowly filtering from the surface into the cavern , falls in drops. Each drop that falls carries away calcite, gradually forming a kind of cone of this material as it re-solidifies.

The elongated rocks that seem to hang from the ceiling of a cavern, in short, are stalactites. The stalactite formation process generates, in turn, the appearance of other types of formations: stalagmites .
When water with calcite drips from a stalactite onto the cave floor, it forms a stalagmite, which is similar to stalactite although it grows in the ground and with its tip pointing upwards.
Although the definition of stalactite refers to water with calcium carbonate, other similar structures can develop with other materials, such as salt or gypsum . There are also lava stalactites or staphyllites , which are created by dripping residual lava .
Stalactites and stalagmites, in short, develop by the precipitation of minerals that are dissolved in water . The formation process is very slow, since it is linked to changes in the dissolving capacity of the water inside the cavern, in turn related to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the water and other factors.
It is true that there are many people who tend to confuse stalactites with stalagmites. However, the difference between the two is clear: the former originate from the ceiling and what they do is grow downwards while the latter arise on the ground and grow upwards.
In addition to all that is indicated, we cannot ignore the fact that the formation of stalactites is really slow and it is considered that for them to grow around 3 centimeters it is required that they pass between 4,000 and 5,000 years.
Among the most significant stalactites is the largest that is located in the famous Caves of Nerja (Malaga). From that it can be indicated that it has about 18 centimeters in diameter, that it is 60 meters high and that it has an age that is established around 450,000 years.

However, one should not overlook stalactites of great value and beauty, such as those in the Cueva de El Soplao, in Cantabria, or those in the Cuevas del Drach, which are located on the island of Mallorca.
In the same way, we cannot ignore the existence of a song that bears the term in question in its title. We are referring to "Stalactites", which is composed and performed by the Uruguayan artist Jorge Drexler. It was published in 2017 and is part of the album “Salvavidas de ice”.

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