Soda straw
Overview
 
A soda straw is a speleothem
Speleothem
A speleothem , commonly known as a cave formation, is a secondary mineral deposit formed in a cave. Speleothems are typically formed in limestone or dolostone solutional caves.-Origin and composition:...

 in the form of a hollow mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 tube. They grow in places where water leaches slowly through cracks in rock, such as on the roofs of cave
Cave
A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. The term applies to natural cavities some part of which is in total darkness. The word cave also includes smaller spaces like rock shelters, sea caves, and grottos.Speleology is the science of exploration and study...

s. A soda straw can turn into a stalactite
Stalactite
A stalactite , "to drip", and meaning "that which drips") is a type of speleothem that hangs from the ceiling of limestone caves. It is a type of dripstone...

 if the hole at the bottom is blocked, or if the water begins flowing on the outside surface of the tube.

These tubes form when calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

 or calcium sulfate
Calcium sulfate
Calcium sulfate is a common laboratory and industrial chemical. In the form of γ-anhydrite , it is used as a desiccant. It is also used as a coagulant in products like tofu. In the natural state, unrefined calcium sulfate is a translucent, crystalline white rock...

 dissolved in the water comes out of solution and is deposited.
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Encyclopedia
A soda straw is a speleothem
Speleothem
A speleothem , commonly known as a cave formation, is a secondary mineral deposit formed in a cave. Speleothems are typically formed in limestone or dolostone solutional caves.-Origin and composition:...

 in the form of a hollow mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 tube. They grow in places where water leaches slowly through cracks in rock, such as on the roofs of cave
Cave
A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. The term applies to natural cavities some part of which is in total darkness. The word cave also includes smaller spaces like rock shelters, sea caves, and grottos.Speleology is the science of exploration and study...

s. A soda straw can turn into a stalactite
Stalactite
A stalactite , "to drip", and meaning "that which drips") is a type of speleothem that hangs from the ceiling of limestone caves. It is a type of dripstone...

 if the hole at the bottom is blocked, or if the water begins flowing on the outside surface of the tube.

These tubes form when calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

 or calcium sulfate
Calcium sulfate
Calcium sulfate is a common laboratory and industrial chemical. In the form of γ-anhydrite , it is used as a desiccant. It is also used as a coagulant in products like tofu. In the natural state, unrefined calcium sulfate is a translucent, crystalline white rock...

 dissolved in the water comes out of solution and is deposited. In soda straws, as each drop hovers at the tip, it deposits a ring of mineral at its edge. It then falls and a new drop takes its place. Each successive drop of water deposits a little more mineral before falling, and eventually a tube is built up. Stalagmite
Stalagmite
A stalagmite is a type of speleothem that rises from the floor of a limestone cave due to the dripping of mineralized solutions and the deposition of calcium carbonate. This stalagmite formation occurs only under certain pH conditions within the underground cavern. The corresponding formation on...

s or flowstone
Flowstone
Flowstones are composed of sheetlike deposits of calcite formed where water flows down the walls or along the floors of a cave. They are typically found in "solution", or limestone caves, where they are the most common speleothem. However, they may form in any type of cave where water enters that...

 may form where the water drops hit the cave floor.

Soda straws are some of the most fragile of speleothems. Like helictite
Helictite
A helictite is a speleothem found in limestone caves that changes its axis from the vertical at one or more stages during its growth. They have a curving or angular form that looks as if they were grown in zero gravity...

s, they can be easily crushed or broken by the slightest touch. Because of this, soda straws are rarely seen within arms' reach in tourist
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

caves. When left alone, soda straws have been known to grow up to 9 metres (30 feet) long.

Soda straws are also known as Tubular stalactites.

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The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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