The mystery of the moving stones in Death Valley

The mystery of the moving stones in Death Valley

In Death Valley, stones weighing up to 300 kilograms move hundreds of meters, and no one understands why… This valley belongs to the Mojave Desert, located in California. Its name comes from gold prospectors in the 19th centuryy Who found themselves trapped for several months in this desert completely devoid of animal and plant life.

How can such heavy stones move such long distances? Could hurricane winds be enough to move them? No, it requires a very rare phenomenon called “ice push.”

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For the first time in 2013, scientists were able to observe this phenomenon live. They installed a weather station and equipped some of the stones with a GPS. Thus, they revealed the mystery of these stones, and revealed a rare phenomenon that is specific to this region and rarely observed.

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Heavy rain falls in Death Valley. The barren lake bottom is filled with water, and the rocks still appear like small islands of stone. During the night, temperatures drop and the cold freezes the water covering the area. A giant sheet of very thin ice forms on the lake. In the morning, the sun breaks the layer of ice into pieces.

These fragments of the frozen lake become surfboards for the stones. All it takes is a slight gust of wind for the stones to slide and leave traces on the bottom of the lake, turning for a few hours into a pile of mud.

– Fanny Arlandes, “The Mystery of the Moving Stones in Death Valley Solved,”, August 29, 2014.
– Lindsay Beaver, “Scientists may have solved the mystery of Death Valley’s ‘sailstones,’”, August 28, 2014.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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