When cave passages are shallow, roots may extend into them in a quest for water. These may then become coated with calcite, essentially fossilizing them. Rootsicle is the generic term for all forms of such coated roots, whether forming a column, as in the top two photos, or a stalactite, as in the lower image. Rootsicles tend to be more common in tropical caves, although the two on the bottom are from caves in California. They are especially prevalent in the dry caves of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, where they may form the basis of most of the columns that form in these shallow caves such as in the top two photos. In the middle photo one can see three stages of root formation, earliest in the middle, later stage on the right, and fully coated with calcite on the left.

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The Virtual Cave

Created: May 3, 2005
Author: Dave Bunnell

Updated: Nov. 17, 2014