It contains rare formations with large amounts of gypsum and lemon-yellow sulphur deposits. The rare speleothems within the cave include 6.1 m gypsum chandeliers, 6.1 m gypsum hairs and beards, 4.6 m soda straws, hydromagnesite balloons, cave pearls, subaqueous helictites, rusticles, U-loops and J-loops. The large amount of gypsum and sulphur supports speleogenesis by sulphuric acid dissolution.
Chemolithoautotrophic (rock-eating) bacteria are believed to exist in the cave, feeding on the sulfur, iron, and manganese minerals present. These bacteria may assist in enlarging the cave and shaping the speleothems into interesting shapes.
The photo shows stalagmites, stalactites, and draperies by a pool in Lechuguilla Cave. Access to the cave is limited only to the approved scientific researchers, survey and exploration teams.
Photo: Dave Bunnell http://