Story: Limestone country

Stalactites (3rd of 3)

Stalactites

Stalactites form when drips of water fall from the ceiling of a cave. Before dripping drops deposit a tiny amount of calcite (calcium carbonate). Over time this builds up on the ceiling and a tapered growth extends downwards. In places where there are many drips, such as this cave at Waitomo, a whole field of stalactites can build up. Stalactites can extend so far downwards that they meet stalagmites (which grow upwards from cave floors) forming columns.

Using this item

GNS Science
Reference: CN32722/19
Photograph by Lloyd Homer

Permission of GNS Science must be obtained before any use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Paul Williams, 'Limestone country - Caves', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/12400/stalactites (accessed 24 September 2021)

Story by Paul Williams, published 24 Sep 2007