The Moving Rocks Of Death Valley

Samuel Reason - April 23rd, 2020

For many decades scientists have been stumped by the phenomenon known as sailing stones. Located in Death Valley, these 300-pound rocks appear to glide effortlessly through the sands. They are found in a particularly remote part of the Death Valley, which is why it has been so difficult to study them. Nicknamed the sailing stones because they are found on the dried lake known as the Racetrack Playa when they move they leave a cracked trail behind them in the mud.

The explanation for the movement of these boulders and rocks has seen everything from space aliens, to pranksters, to magnetic fields. However, no one has ever seen them actually move, which is why they have been able to remain so mysterious. Park ranger Alan Van Valkenburg has stated that you tend to have that whole section of the playa for yourself if you go out there, nobody is around at all. It is very quiet and very open, so a rock moving by itself really is quite incredible.

Scientists, of course, have tried to solve this mystery for many generations. They even thought dust devils were moving the rocks, or that the strong winds were moving these boulders that weigh up to 700 pounds. All the theories were eventually disproved, leaving us with zero explanation around the movement. Until now.

While researching the weather conditions on a hydrocarbon lake on Titan, NASA scientists became interested in comparing it with the Death Valley conditions. And Ralph Lorenz became intrigued by the sailing stones. He figured out what most likely was happening was that during periods of rain and temperature drops, the rock’s were being encased in ice. As the lake dried up the water levels were extremely low so the rock encased in ice was still scraping on the sandy floor but the conditions were good enough to let it float a little.

Lorenz figured out that if the winter conditions were just right in Death Valley, with enough water and ice, the rocks could float across the mud of the Racetrack Playa. And then in a light breeze, they would glide across the sands.

Next Article
  • The Great Mystery Of The Yoyo

    Strangely enough one of the funniest human invention origins is a complete mystery. We’re talking about the yo-yo, the childhood toy that eats up countless hours as you try to master the spins. Of course, the general consensus from historians is that it was probably invented in China. However, the first mention in historical counts...

    Read More
  • Thanksgiving Invented The TV Dinners Industry

    The birth of the massive TV dinner industry, such as microwaveable meals, started as a big mistake. During the 1940s, the most prominent brands creating frozen food was Swanson and Birds Eye. However, at this time it was mostly frozen vegetables or meat, meaning you still had to put the meal together. The concept of...

    Read More
  • The Mystery Disappearance Of NBA Player Bison Dele

    Bison Dele was a professional basketball player during the 1990s who played in one of the Chicago Bulls dream teams. Dele played several seasons for Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Denver Nuggets before several standout performances put him in the sights of the Chicago Bulls. In 1997, he won the NBA Championship with...

    Read More
  • Hong Kong Gangster Asks Tycoon Where He Should Invest The Ransom

    Tycoon Li Ka-Shing, the richest businessman in Asia, revealed how his eldest son was kidnapped for ransom by a Hong Kong gangster. The gangster called Cheung Tze-Keung was notorious during the 90s. He brazenly turned up at their home and kidnapped Li’s son in 1996. At the time Li blamed himself for being a high...

    Read More
  • The Old Soviet Cyberspace Is A Haven For Hackers

    As we know the internet is huge, you can find amazing creations and learn easily, but it's also home to some unsavory characters. One place that is filled with malicious websites and hackers is the ancient .su domain. This is the domain used by the old Soviet Union, and it's not really policed at all...

    Read More
  • Giant British WW1 Stink Bombs

    During the First World War, both sides were shooting terrible flammable and toxic chemicals at each other. It was a time where all forms of warfare were being used, it didn’t matter how terrible the weapon was. Germans would regularly fire deadly Mustard gas at British and French forces. And the Allies started to use...

    Read More
  • From Heavyweight Champion To Irish Mob Boss To New York Senator

    John Morrissey was an Irish-born American who dominated New York politics during the Gilded Age of the Northern United States. This was a period in the late 19th century starting from the 1870s when the country saw rapid economic growth and extreme political corruption. It was one of the periods where Europeans migrated in masses...

    Read More