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FossilGuy24

Stalactite

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FossilGuy24

C6215DB5-9933-4CDF-B9A5-FCA4D40CE681.jpeg.3b2132b7bb8e8a6e67b0404db4b2485d.jpegI purchased this in Mexico legally many years ago.  It was brought back through customs and inspected.  Is this a stalactite and is there anyway to know it’s approximate age?  Thank you.

95EDCC0E-ECA9-445F-B38F-13512D15EE90.jpeg

176F1443-3DA9-43E9-B795-5FF154437E57.jpeg

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Carl

Sure looks like a stalactite to me. No idea how to age one of these. Probably can't be done by sight but maybe from an costly chemical analysis.

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daves64

Count it's rings. ;)

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Darktooth
29 minutes ago, daves64 said:

Count it's rings. ;)

Yes I believe I heard this somewhere. Just like aging a tree.

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Kato

Hmm...I don't think we can equate a stalactite or stalagmite to a tree that has its annular growth rings tied to the seasons and rotation around the sun.

 

From what I can recall from geology class a long time ago the thickness or age of a stalactite might not be coincident. A lot of it depends on the drip rate and type of material in solution. At the very least I would think something like this would take 10,000's of thousands of years. I can recall reading something about such cave formations taking millions of years to form. I may equally be wrong in all my recollections so perhaps a real cave loving trogolodyte type will chime in.

 

I think the only way to tell is chemical analysis and expensive forensics.

 

Again, not being anything like an expert. It seemed like stalactites (from ceiling) tended to be longer and pointy looking whereas the stalagmite (from the cave floor) tended to be more of this appearance.

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Darktooth
20 minutes ago, Kato said:

Hmm...I don't think we can equate a stalactite or stalagmite to a tree that has its annular growth rings tied to the seasons and rotation around the sun.

 

From what I can recall from geology class a long time ago the thickness or age of a stalactite might not be coincident. A lot of it depends on the drip rate and type of material in solution. At the very least I would think something like this would take 10,000's of thousands of years. I can recall reading something about such cave formations taking millions of years to form. I may equally be wrong in all my recollections so perhaps a real cave loving trogolodyte type will chime in.

 

I think the only way to tell is chemical analysis and expensive forensics.

 

Again, not being anything like an expert. It seemed like stalactites (from ceiling) tended to be longer and pointy looking whereas the stalagmite (from the cave floor) tended to be more of this appearance.

I very well could be wrong but during a tour of Howe's Caverns, Coopertown New York, I do believe the tour guide stated something to the affect of growth rings. Again, maybe I am wrong or misunderstood what was being said. It was a few years ago and my memory isn't as sharp as it used to be.;)

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Kato
4 minutes ago, Darktooth said:

I very well could be wrong but during a tour of Howe's Caverns, Coopertown New York, I do believe the tour guide stated something to the affect of growth rings. Again, maybe I am wrong or misunderstood what was being said. It was a few years ago and my memory isn't as sharp as it used to be.;)

I don't think you are wrong. My memory just says the growth rings are measured against their own timeline and not necessarily that of trees. Obviously, there has to be moisture and rainy seasons can be cyclical so in some ways they are similar (yet different). In some caves moisture drips all year long. Some only drip after rains percolate through formations above them.

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ynot

It is a stalagmite. It is broken on both ends.

The only way to date it would be to know the formation/cave it came from. The amount of growth is dependant on the water percolating through the system and depositing calcite on the speleothems.

I have heard that the growth rate of a stalagmite is 1/2 inch per century at the fastest.

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DPS Ammonite

You can use U-Pb dating to get an age of the cave formation. U-Pb dating has been done in cave formations in the Grand Canyon to help find out about the geological history of the canyon. 

http://asmerom.unm.edu/Research/Papers/Grand Canyon.pdf

 

Age and evolution of the Grand Canyon revealed by U-Pb dating of water table-type speleothems.

Polyak V, et al. Science. 2008 Mar 7;319(5868):1377-80. doi: 10.1126/science.1151248.
 

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jpc

It would have to have some uranium and lead in it....

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daves64

I was making a joke.. and you guys have to go & get all brainy with it. :doh!: I had never heard of counting the rings of a stalagmite or a stalactite. I just figured what the hey, it has rings, count em. :shrug:

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fossilnut

Beautiful piece. I like the flow ridges on the outside. Also it appears that maybe 2 stalactites merged together from the 2 sets of rings? Years ago I found one in a limestone quarry and at the center was a star shaped hole where the crystals met. Yours seems to have that same feature although somewhat blocked in the picture. Good memories.

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Carl
1 hour ago, ynot said:

It is a stalagmite. It is broken on both ends.

I confess I know a lot less about cave formations than fossils but why couldn't a stalactite be broken at both ends?

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abyssunder

It is not a fossil, but a huge and beautiful speleothem.  :)

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Carl

And again, I don't know caves that well, but I have heard that some cave formations might actually form on much faster time scales than once previously stated for all kinds. I have personally seen calcite forming in subway tunnels and on the surface of stone walls that could only have taken decades.

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JohnBrewer

I hope it was obtained legally and morally. It would be a travesty if it was snapped off purely for a private collection. 

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abyssunder

In Romania collecting speleothems is prohibited.

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Paciphacops

Stalagmites often do have annual rings, as most places have wetter and drier seasons, but prolonged droughts can interrupt the growth and throw off the estimates. Also, if it came from a very dry, desert area, the growth may have taken place 10's or even 100's of thousand years ago, when the climate was very different. 

 

Someone at my university uses uranium/thorium dating to study past climate by dating sections of stalagmites, and oxygen, carbon and other isotopes in new growth vs old growth to compare with ice age climatic conditions. Speleothems can contain a wealth of climate information.

 

I have no issues with collecting a few specimens for science from an inconspicuous area in a cave (which I have done, with permission), but I really don't like seeing speleothems taken from caves simply for commercial purposes, even when done legally. To me, this not only destroys the aesthetics in the cave, but can also destroy one of our best records of the past climate. If the speleothems have been blasted out of a road cut or quarry, then that is a completely different situation, but these sorts of things are rarely documented when one purchases these items. 

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Plax

Many speleothems are taken from caves in limestone quarries. When the quarry is active caves are not something that is preserved. Taking them from caves is of course an immoral act. I thought stalagmites were more amorphous?? This looks like a stalactite to me but am no expert.

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abyssunder
23 minutes ago, Plax said:

I thought stalagmites were more amorphous?? This looks like a stalactite to me but am no expert.

I agree. Good point, Don.

 

IMG_0202.thumb.jpg.a09c783cac5ca21a4332b909d6574cbe.jpg

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Coco

From my point of view on this photo it is about a stalactite (which comes down from the ceiling), we can recognize it thanks to the small hole in the entrance, by which the water flows and forms the stalactite.

Stalagmite (on the ground) is formed as the water settles on the ground with the minerals it contains. She doesn't have a hole.

In France also it is forbidden to take them.

 

Coco

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