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A stalactite (UK: /ˈstæləktt/, US: /stəˈlæktt/; from the Greek stalasso, (σταλάσσω), "to drip", and meaning "that which drips") is a type of formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves, hot springs, or manmade structures such as bridges and mines. Any material that is soluble, can be deposited as a colloid, or is in suspension, or is capable of being melted, may form a stalactite. Stalactites may be composed of lava, minerals, mud, peat, pitch, sand, sinter, and amberat (crystallized urine of pack rats).[1][2] A stalactite is not necessarily a speleothem, though speleothems are the most common form of stalactite because of the abundance of limestone caves.[1][3]

The corresponding formation on the floor of the cave is known as a stalagmite. Mnemonics have been developed for which word refers to which type of formation; one is that stalactite has a C for "ceiling", and stalagmite has a G for "ground".[4]

See also