Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Uh-oh. Gonna need a plumber!

Uh-oh. Gonna need a plumber!

Calcite Cave Formation

Calcite Cave Formation – a heavy brute

It’s almost time for the Brantford Gem and Mineral Show held every year the first of April. Three years ago when the theme was calcite, the University of Waterloo had a display of some unusual calcite specimens.

What you see here are the effects of calcium carbonate build-up over time. The copper pipe filled with layers of the stuff is about 8″ in diameter. The stalactites form the same way. Calcite slowly builds as it precipitates out of the groundwater. Reiner and I came across a section of tufa along the Nith River. It had washed out in the spring floods and exposed cavities within. You can tell that the formation has moved more than once by the way the stalactites flow in different directions. I found this particular monstrosity and carried it out. I have the chiropractic bills to prove it!

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge

Categories: Mineral Collecting, Photography

Tags: , , , , , ,

31 replies

  1. That is so cool! That’s your name next to the sample you collected! I showed it to my husband and he smiled (which is bordering on excitement for him). You really carried that huge sample yourself? Do you know what it weighs?

    Thanks for sharing!



    • Glad to bring smiles to faces! Reiner brought out a similar piece (not nearly as aesthetic as mine, of course, but BIGGER)(of course!). It sits on our dresser. Weight: about 20-25 pounds?


      • “Reiner brought out a similar piece (not nearly as aesthetic as mine, of course, but BIGGER)(of course!)”

        I hear that’s what people do when they want to impress someone . . .

        20 – 25 pounds, that’s almost precisely between what my infant and my toddler weighs, but they’re far more ergonomically designed than calcite deposits.



  2. Is it just me or does that look like a barristers wig that went through the wash? Seriously it really does.


  3. That looks like the face of a character you’d find in the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars.


  4. Agree with the total coolness factor of your name in that case. (Did you go look at it once a week for the first six months, finally taking to wearing disguises so the guards would stop smiling at you condescendingly? I would have.)

    Loved your opening with the pipe. Dramatic, that, and hits us all in a place we can relate to. Wow. Have seen build-up in pipes, but never so much. And who knew it could look rather beautiful? Re: your barrister’s wig, I also had never known–considered the possibility–that when stalacs or stalags break off, they might be found OUTside their homes. Fascinating post altogether, for me. Thanks!


    • Thank you, Babe! I appreciate your feedback regarding the head photo. I had the order reversed initially and thought better of it. I think the pipe packs more punch. (What is it with alliteration and the letter p these days?)
      The stalactites are cave formations, but they were not found in a cavern per se. I’m quibbling. Runoff from the adjacent lands travelled along a gravel moraine till it reached the river. At that point it would drip out and the calcite settled on the cobbles and pebbles and formed a natural cement. The calcite also sealed over moss and leaves and twigs etc. which created a giant outcrop of tufa. Over the centuries, openings inside the tufa developed and cave “speleothems” formed.


    • Forgot to mention: On our last visit to the university I was miffed to see that the piece was not on display. Turns out they had moved it to a case of its very own in a different part of the museum. Goofy me.


  5. I did not realize the top photo was a pipe until I read it. WOW! You have inspired me dig out my rocks and put them on display. I love rocks.


  6. But Maggie … calcium carbonate? Isn’t that used in cooking? Are we creating THAT in our tums? 😉
    And what do you mean, you carried it out?????


  7. Good grief! Suddenly I feel like I’d better dash off and get scrubbing those pipes…. 😉


    • Yeah! Especially if you live where the water is hard. Like all of southwestern Ontario. If I recall correctly, this pipe slice was taken from a watermain that was dug up in downtown Kitchener many decades ago.



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