Yes, stalactites, also called ‘hanging speleothems’, have been found underwater, for example the Hells Bells in Mexico. They are hollow structures that expand conically downwards. In addition to the carbonate that builds stalactites and stalagmites, bacteria and algae help in the formation of these underwater stalactites.

Hanging speleothems, also called stalactites, develop through physicochemical processes in which calcium carbonate-rich water dries up. Normally, they rejuvenate and form a tip at the lower end from which drops of water fall to the cave floor. The formations in the El Zapote cave, which are up to two metres long, expand conically downward and are hollow, with round, elliptical or horseshoe-shaped cross-sections. Not only are they unique in shape and size, but also their mode of growth, according to Prof. Stinnesbeck. They grow in a lightless environment near the base of a 30 m freshwater unit immediately above a zone of oxygen-depleted and sulfide-rich toxic saltwater.


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