What makes this setting so perfect for Dark Gathering? The Crystal Caves, of course.
Buried a thousand feet (300 meters) below Naica mountain in the Chihuahuan Desert, lie the Crystal Caves: deep caves that were discovered by two miners in 2000.
According to an article in the National Geographic, reported by Stefan Lovgren and Ted Chamberlain, “the caves contain some of the largest natural crystals ever found: beautiful translucent gypsum beams measuring up to 36 feet (11 meters) long and weighing up to 55 tons.”
“It’s a natural marvel,” said García-Ruiz, of the University of Granada in Spain.
And looking at the pictures, it’s not hard to imagine why.
The crystals, García-Ruiz said, thrived because they were submerged in mineral-rich water with a very narrow, stable temperature range—around 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius).
The caves were featured on the Discovery Channel program Naica: Beyond The Crystal Cave in February 2011, and since then have garnered quite a bit of attention. Exploration has uncovered the existence of additional chambers, but the cave’s accessibility is dependent on the mine’s water pumps to keep the tunnels free of water. When mineral exploitation finishes, the pumps will be shut off and the cavern’s water level allowed to rise again.
And, of course, that takes us “back” to Dark Gathering and the year 2212. In the book’s dystopian future the caves have been restored to their natural glory and boiling water and hot temperatures make entrance to the caves difficult.
But that doesn’t stop Duncan MacKinnon who’s convinced the power in the giant crystals will help Caitriona tap into her latent magical powers.
It’s the kind of stuff good fiction is made from, but is there really any type of power in the Crystal Caves?
The Mystery of the Caves
Opened to scientists in 2006, the Crystal Caves became somewhat of a natural wonder. At that time, scientists recovered over 60 samples from tiny fluid pockets in the crystals. The surprising part: none of the bacteria, viruses, and archaea were known to science.
Let that sink in.
For years, the National Cave and Karst Research Institute in New Mexico has been trying to identify the samples. The closest they’ve come is to identify their genetic relatives as far away as Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and caves in Spain, Italy, and Australia.
Mysterious, yes. But are crystals powerful? Magical even?
“When we bring the crystal into our electromagnetic field, two things occur. The electromagnetic frequencies carried by the stone will vibrate with related frequencies in our own energy field through the physical law of resonance, creating a third larger vibration field. The nervous system is attuned to these shifts in energy and transmits this information to the brain. Here the frequencies stimulate biochemical shifts that affect the physical body and shift brain function.” — Book of Stones, Simmons and Ahsian, 2005.
All this is to say that the Crystal Caves seem like a perfect backdrop for our magically-gifted heroine to explore her latent powers. And, with some new faces joining the fight, readers are sure to delight in this newest twist in the Dark World series.
Zona del Silencio
But the phenomena doesn’t stop with just the crystals; the location of the crystals is equally mysterious.
Also located in the Chihuahuan desert is the mysterious Zona del Silencio (Zone of Silence), a dead zone of roughly 25 kilometers, aptly named because no radio waves or transmissions can be received in that area. Reports of UFO sightings, compasses that do not point to magnetic north, and paranormal activity have also provided a hotbed of intrigue for scientists and curious onlookers alike.
And, as if that wasn’t mysterious enough, the Zone of Silence is geographically located just north of the Tropic of Cancer and shares the same latitude south of the 30th parallel as the Egyptian Pyramids, the sacred cities of Tibet, and the Bermuda Triangle.
Coincidence? Most scientists seem to think so.
But for this sci-fi romance novelist, this is the stuff best sellers are made of!