Stalactites, stalagmites and helictites…

Grotte de Grand Roc

Grotte de Grand Roc

The Grotte du Grand Roc de Les Eyzies-de-Tayac is a cave in the Dordogne region of France in the side of a mountain. It was discovered by Jean Maury while following a small river coming out of a mountain in 1924 and took 3 years to prepare it to open to the public. It is a limestone cave that has lots of stalactites, stalagmites and helictites. When the water with minerals drips from the ceiling of a cave, slowly over time it hardens in an icicle form and creates a stalactite.  When the water drips of the end of the already formed stalactite, the water dripping onto the floor forms a stalagmite that grows upward.  A helictite is a stalactite or stalagmite that while in the process of growing the water becomes blocked forcing it to change course creating an odd shaped stalactite or stalagmite.  Every 100 years, these formations only grow a couple of centimeters. Therefore, it is important not to touch the stalactites, stalagmites and helictites because some are very fragile and can break very easily.   

Interesting facts:

  • at the end of the tour, there was a helictite that looked like three different things:  the Winged Victory found in the Louvre, a pickaxe, or a pterodactyl.  
  • we also saw a helictite that looked like a sword.  This one had been broken by a kid  and it took scientists 3 years to put this back together.  
  • there was also a helictite that looked like a hockey stick (and I thought of one of my friends – Keegan :).  

To find out more about stalactites and stalagmites, check out this website:  http://global.britannica.com/science/stalactite

Grotte de Grand Roc

Grotte de Grand Roc

Grotte de Grand Roc

Grotte de Grand Roc