Download Bat In StoneDownloadDescription: One of the most interesting rock formations in Carlsbad Caverns, this is actually the skeleton of a bat encased in calcite. Presumably the bat died on a stalagmite, and was slowly entombed by the action of water dripping on the skeleton and leaving calcite traces behind. The translucent stone is lit from behind with a flashlight, so that the shadowy bones of the bat can be seen inside the stone. The skull and part of the wing bones are clearly visible.

Download Limestone Curtains 3DownloadDescription: A limestone rock formation in Carlsbad Caverns, seen from below. This thin sheet-like formation is known as a curtain or drape, because of its cloth-like appearance.

Download Bent StrawDownloadDescription: Two small limestone formations in Carlsbad Caverns known as soda straws. These thin icicle-like formations are hollow, and are the precursors of actual stalactites. Over time, the hollow interior of the straw fills with limestone and the base thickens to form a stalactite. The interesting point about this formation is that one of the straws is fairly straight, but the other is bent to the right. This was caused by the action of air currents during the formation of the bent straw, which push each drop of water slightly to the side as it falls, curving the straw in the direction of the air current. This indicates that these two straws formed at different times, and that the air current was only present during the formation of the bent straw.

Download Weird WallDownloadDescription: This wall in Carlsbad Caverns is truly strange.

Download Cave PearlsDownloadDescription: Tiny white limestone formations known as cave pearls, in a shallow pool in Carlsbad Caverns. These form within cave pools when limestone accretes around a small rock or other fragment, much the same way a pearl is formed inside an oyster.

Download Cave Popcorn 3DownloadDescription: A rock with a small pool on it in Carlsbad Caverns. Around the pool are clusters of coral-like formations called cave popcorn. These form by the condensation and evaporation of water on the limestone surface, and are common in the wetter portions of the caves.

Download Column BirthDownloadDescription: Stalactite meets stalagmite, and a new column is born in Carlsbad Caverns.

Download Weird Wall 2DownloadDescription: There seems to be no end to the bizarre formations created by water and stone here in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico.

Download Pool In Strange FormationDownloadDescription: An underground stream has eroded the rock formation, creating a small pool. The patterns in the rock have an almost fungoid appearance.

Download Pillar TippedDownloadDescription: A large fallen rock formation in Carlsbad Caverns.

Download Huge Cracked ColumnDownloadDescription: This amazing limestone column has cracked.

Download 2 ColumnsDownloadDescription: Some interesting limestone formations in Carlsbad Caverns.

Download 1 Fat ColumnDownloadDescription: A huge limestone stalagmite has joined with a smaller stalactite to form a column in Carlsbad Caverns.

Download Limestone Curtains 2DownloadDescription: A large cluster of the sheet-like limestone rock formaitons known as curtains or drapes, in Carlsbad Caverns. The shape of this cluster resembles an inverted teardrop, with the folds of the curtains merging in the center to form a single stalactite. Seen from the side.

Download Limestone Curtains 1DownloadDescription: Thin sheet-like limestone formations known as curtains or drapes, in Carlsbad Caverns, seen from the side. These curtains are encrusted with the small bulbous formations called cave popcorn. Essentially, the curtains are a form of stalactite, but because of their particular appearance, they are given a special name.

Download Flowing LimestoneDownloadDescription: A large limestone column in Carlsbad Caverns looking like dripping wax. This column has a particularly melted appearance, dripping on all sides with icicle-like stalactites and encrusted in places with small rough formations called cave popcorn.

Download Textured Limestone ColumnDownloadDescription: A limestone column in Carlsbad Caverns, with a particularly rich and varied texture formed of strange branching formations made by the slow dripping of water along the edges of the limestone. Mostly the stalagmite portion of the column is visible in this photo, with the rough, ridged appearance common to stalagmites. On the right side of the picture is the side of another column, encrusted with the small barnacle-like formations called cave popcorn.

Download Limestone PillarDownloadDescription: A white, rounded pillar formed of limestone when by a combination of a long thin stalactite from the ceiling and a broad thick stalagmite growing up from the floor. The column is white and rough-textured, seen against a dark background.

Download Limestone Column 1DownloadDescription: A large limestone column in Carlsbad Caverns, formed when a stalactite merges with the stalagmite below. On the right side of the photo, between the column and the wall, hang several sheet-like formations known as limestone curtains or drapes. There are also clusters of the small hollow formations called soda straws hanging from the wall.

Download Cave Popcorn 2DownloadDescription: Two small stalagmites on the floor of a cave in carlsbad caverns. The stalagmites and the surrounding floor are completely covered in small barnacle-like formations called cave popcorn, which form because of condensation and evaporation of water on the limestone surface.

The slow dripping of water over limestone in Carlsbad Caverns forms some very strange rock formations over long periods of time. Drips of water running along the curve where wall meets ceiling form limestone "curtains," looking very much like cloth drapes made of stone. Tiny round stones called "cave pearls" accrete in the stagnant pools. Splattering water forms weird barnacle-like encrustations called "cave popcorn." When there is airflow, drips from the ceiling can form thin tubular straws, which bend to follow the gentle, constant flow of wind. These shapes lend an otherworldly quality to the caves, fantastical and surreal.


Free pictures of rock formations in Carlsbad Caverns - limestone curtains, straws, cave pearls and others. Photos free to use for any purpose.

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