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Drapery

Timpanogos Cave National Monument

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Drapery
The most common cave minerals in the world, and in the Timpanogos cave system, are carbonate minerals. The carbonates found in Timpanogos Cave National Monument are calcite and aragonite. Chemically the two minerals are the same, however they exhibit different crystalline structures. You may be wondering how cave formations get here. The process begins when carbon dioxide from the air, snow, or soil, reacts with rain to form a weak carbonic acid. As this acid percolates through cracks in the limestone and dolomite which overly the Timpanogos cave system, it slowly dissolves the rock. The water then becomes saturated with calcium carbonate. When this saturated water comes into contact with an air filled chamber, the carbon dioxide evaporates and the water deposits the calcite it was carrying. Over time these tiny calcite deposits build up producing intricate cave formations. These formations found near Middle Cave Lake are called draperies. Draperies are described as curtains of calcite hanging from an inclined surface. Draperies are often remarkably thin.


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