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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 photos 1 and 2, or a stalactite, as in photo #3. Rootsicles tend to be more common in tropical caves, although photo #3 is 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. In the second 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.

AUTHOR: Dave Bunnell