"In 1974 cool, moist air billowed from a crack in Arizona's sunbaked desert and lured cave hunters Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen underground. There, glistening formations of rock hung from the ceiling like icicles and sprouted from the ground. The explorers were overwhelmed. They'd discovered a so-called living cave.
Tufts and Tenen were the first humans known to set foot in the Kartchner Caverns, which today are among the world's top show caves.
When Arizona State Parks staff people first saw the caves, "the same thing happened to us that happened to them," Travous said. "You look at it and you get overwhelmed with the responsibility of it."
The caverns are "living," a term used to describe active caves. "The cave formations still have water on them, they're still continuing to grow," said Rick Toomey, a staff scientist at the Kartchner Caverns in Benson.
Rainwater from the surface seeps through the ground, absorbing calcium carbonate along the way. Inside the cave, the mixture drips from the ceiling. As it hardens, it forms the icicle-like stalactites on the ceiling and sproutlike stalagmites on the floor. (...)"