Stalagmites, Stalactites, and Icicles - An Overview

Stalagmites grow up from the cave floor whereas stalactites grow down from the cave ceiling. The quickest growing stalactites are those formed by a constant supply of slowly dripping water rich in calcium carbonate and carbon dioxide. 

Aspiring civil service candidates need to have a firm grip over the topics covered in the Geography syllabus as it is an important part of the IAS Exam. 

Stalactites, Stalagmites, Icicles – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Stalactites – Introduction

  1. A stalactite is a type of formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves, mines, man-made structures such as bridges.
  2. Stalactites may be composed of sand, lava, mud, peat, pitch, minerals, amberat, and sinter.
  3. Any material that is soluble, is capable of being melted, and is in suspension or can be deposited as a colloid, may form a stalactite.
  4. Since limestone caves are in abundance, the most common form of stalactites are speleothems.
  5. The term “stalactite” was coined in the 17th century by the Danish Physician Ole Worm.

Stalactites – Types

Brief information on different types of stalactites is mentioned below.

Limestone stalactites

  1. The most common stalactites are speleothems, which occur in limestone caves. 
  2. They form through deposition of calcium carbonate and other minerals.

Lava stalactites

  1. This is formed in lava tubes while lava is still active inside.

Ice stalactites

  1. Ice stalactites form very quickly within hours or days.
  2. Ice stalactites may grow back as long as water and temperatures are suitable.

Stalagmites – Introduction

  1. Stalagmite is a type of rock formation that rises from the floor of a cave due to the accumulation of material deposited on the floor from ceiling drippings.
  2. Stalagmites are typically composed of calcium carbonate but may consist of lava, sand, mud, pitch, peat, pitch, amberat and sinter.
  3. The largest known stalagmite in the world is located in Vietnam (Son Doong Cave). Its height exceeds 230 ft. 

Stalagmites – Types

The different types of stalagmites are 

  1. Limestone stalagmites
  2. Lava stalagmites
  3. Ice Stalagmites
  4. Concrete derived stalagmites

Icicle – Introduction

  1. An icicle is a spike of ice formed when water dripping or falling from an object freezes.
  2. Icicles can form during bright, sunny, but subfreezing weather, when ice or snow melted by sunlight or some other heat source (such as a poorly insulated building), refreezes as it drips off under exposed conditions.

Icicle – Damages or Injuries

  1. Icicles that hang from an object may fall and cause injury and/or damage to whoever or whatever is below them.
  2. There are cases where motor vehicles have been damaged by large icicles that form on cliffs near highways. 

Stalactites, Stalagmites, Icicles – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

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