The Naica Mine of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, is a working mine that is best known for its extraordinary selenite crystals. Located in Naica in the municipality of Saucillo, the Naica Mine is a lead, zinc and silver mine operated by Industrias Peñoles, Mexico’s largest lead producer. Caverns discovered during mining operations contain crystals of selenite (gypsum) as large as 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter and 50 feet (15 m) long.
Formation of the crystals
Naica lies on an ancient fault and there is an underground magma chamber below the cave. The magma heated the ground water and it became saturated with minerals, including large quantities of gypsum. The hollow space of the cave was filled with this mineral-rich hot water and remained filled for about 500,000 years. During this time, the temperature of the water remained very stable at over 50 °C (122 °F). This allowed crystals to form and grow to immense sizes.