Scientists Say: Stalactite and stalagmite
These are formations that occur in caves when water evaporates and leaves minerals behind
Stalactite (noun, “Stah-LACK-tight”)
This is a mineral formation found in a cave. Water in the cave drips down, over and over in the same place. If the water evaporates before the droplet falls, the minerals in the water remain behind on the ceiling of the cave. As they solidify, they form rock. Over many years, the minerals collect into a long icicle made of rock — a stalactite.
Stalagmite (noun, “Stah-LAG-might”)
This is another mineral formation found in caves. In this case, water drips down onto the floor, over and over on the same spot. The water evaporates, leaving any minerals in it behind. Those minerals pile up over time and solidify into rock. Over many years, they will form a rock mound on the floor — a stalagmite.
How do you remember the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite? Stalactites cling tight to the ceiling. Stalagmites might hang from the ceiling — but they don’t.
In a sentence
Tiny worms can live inside stalactites, eating bacteria they find there.
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