Solved, wandering rocks

Posted: August 30, 2014 by tchannon in Uncategorized, wind

Spooky, the moving Death Valley rocks.


Image Jon Sullivan, marked PD

(Reuters) – A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California’s Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice.

As a Brit I had not heard of this bizarre effect.

Post by Tim

  1. w.w.wygart says:

    One factor which the good scientists forgot to mention is the nature of the soil underlying the stones. If you have ever driven on the stuff when it is wet it has a consistency something like snot – at once sticky and clingy, and at the same time extremely slippery.

    I remember once driving on this type of ‘mud’, called “gumbo” by the locals, it formed a layer of about three inches thick on the tires of my Jeep, keeping that thickness by being scraped off by the fenders [as we call them over here]. The stuff was so slick I cold only make about 5mph in the low range in four wheel drive. The road I was driving was perpendicular to the wind, which was blowing 40-50mph [that’s a Beaufort 8 to 9 as you mariners know] which simply blew me sideways off the road – a very strange experience driving that slowly – I’ve been of the road many times driving fast, but never at a walking pace. I actually made much better progress OFF the road than on it.

    Armed with that bit of knowledge the race track rock phenomenon doesn’t seem nearly so mysterious. Glad they’ve finally nailed it though.


  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    I am always amazed when “scientists” Discover! something that the locals have known for years. This happens on many playla lake beds that freeze over. pg