"The Bonsai Tree"
Li Gian Mine, Wenshan, Yunnan, China
14.5 cm tall x 15 cm wide
Helictites are a form of speleothem formed by the deposition of minerals in caves, related to stalactites and stalagmites. Speleothem, derived from the Greek words spelaion meaning "cave" and thema meaning "deposit".
Speleothems form when water seeps through cracks in the rock dissolving calcite. The calcite is then precipitated on cave surfaces. As the calcite builds up after countless water drops, a speleothem forms.
During its initial growth this helictite formed with iron impurities imparting a buff orange color. During a secondary crystal growth clear white glowing calcites formed along the bends and ridges of the curling helectites. "The Bonsai Tree," a speleothem like no other.