If you touch stalactites or stalagmites will they stop growing?

My dad and I are having a debate about whether or not they stop growing. I thiink they do but he does not believe me. Please, tell me I am right!

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    You are partly wrong. You can effect the growth of a stalactite or stalagmite, but you won't make it stop.

    Stalactites and stalagmites are formed because the water carries trace amounts of minerals dissolved in it (most commonly as CaCO3 [travertine or limestone], but can also be SiO2 [quartz]) That water will continue to drip, drip, drip, each time leaving a little bit of its minerals behind, forming a stalactite (actually, icicles work the same way, only it's the water freezing rather than dropping minerals out). Stalagmites are formed beneath stalactites because each drip will potentially deposit more of the mineral. This doesn't always happen, particularly when cavern ponds are formed or when the slope is too great, but it's very common. (actually, this happens with ice too. Have you ever seen an ice stalagmite beneath an icicle? it's pretty cool).

    Your skin has oil on it, whether or not you like it. It's something that you need to survive. Whenever you touch something, you leave a fingerprint because some of that oil will stick to whatever you touch. Oils have an interesting property: they are not soluble in water, and in fact they repel water. If you were to touch a stalactite or stalagmite, you would temporarily make the water avoid that spot - it would just sort of go around, or maybe move over but not directly to that spot. It wouldn't take long before the oil would be washed away, but you can affect the way it grows by touching it frequently - mineral will not deposit as much in the places you touch it.

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  • moskos
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Stalagmite And Stalactite

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    yea, ok, u r.... completely.... WRONG!!!! unless u prevent all water+salt from ever entering the area (impossible) they will never stop.... i have seen stalagmites 3 inches high next to 3 foot high ones... and stalactites 3 feet down from ceiling and others almost touching the floor 15-20 feet above (below) it....

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  • 1 decade ago

    No, they won't. Now stop interfering with the natural process.

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