Helictites are irregularly twisted or branched speleothems that grow in non-gravity defined directions. They have tiny internal canals through which water moves, and may have secondary branching canals directed away from the center of the structure. Helictites form by mineral precipitation from water seeping in any direction. How can water move in a direction not dictated by gravity? Capillary action (the same force that draws spilled water into a paper towel).
Different varieties of helictites are named based on their overall physical form. Most of the examples shown below are antler helictites, having linear to sublinear branching forms. A few are irregularly twisted - these are vermiform helictites.
The helictites shown below are composed of travertine.
Helictites (principally antler helictites), Queen’s Chamber, King’s Palace Trail, Carlsbad Caverns.
Helictites (antler helictites & vermiform helictites), Queen’s Chamber, King’s Palace Trail, Carlsbad Caverns.