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"A cactolith is a quasihorizontal chonolith composed of anastomosing ductoliths whose distal ends curl like a harpolith, thin like a sphenolith, or bulge discordantly like an akmolith or ethmolith."

This term and its associated definition were created by Charles B. Hunt, a USGS researcher, in his paper "Geology and geography of the Henry Mountains region, Utah" (1953).[1][2] Whilst he was in fact describing an actual geological feature - a laccolith which he saw as resembling a cactus - he was also, tongue-in-cheek, commenting on what he saw as an absurd number of "-lith" words in the field of Geology.


  1. ^ Hunt, C. B., et al, 1953. USGS Prof. Paper 228, p. 151 (quoted in the Glossary of Geology, Bates and Jackson, 1980)
  2. ^ Jabberokey, West Australian Geologist, Number 475 — February/March 09