The sliding stones of Death Valley that move by themselves (video)

The sliding stones of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley have amazed observers of their trajectory since ancient times. Although in the past it had not been possible to admire more than its change of position and its path marked on the earth, now it has been possible to document the moment of its displacement and with this, the secret behind the rocks that walk alone has been revealed. .

Death Valley Walking Stones

Death Valley in California is one of those places from which various extraordinary legends emerge. Not only is it home to the second hottest place on Earth, boasting temperatures that live up to its name, but also a phenomenon is brewing within it that has kept many explorers and scientists awake. The so-called sliding stones that walk without the help of any man or being to move them.

This phenomenon was first described in 1948 by geologists Jim McAllister and Allen Agnew. That was the year the first article about the Racetrack Playa sliding stones was written in the . The stones slide apparently without the help of any living being and do so almost always parallel to each other, although from time to time the change in trajectory is noticeable. The landslides are recorded in the earth’s sediment and it is thanks to this that geologists have realized that stones literally move.

Due to the strange nature of the phenomenon, since its discovery countless people began to emerge to explain the strange behavior of the rocks that seemed to walk alone. Arguments of all kinds were directed towards this region of the world, from those paranormal and supernatural, to those complex ones that included variations in the magnetic field or, very strong winds that propelled the rocks through the wet soil.

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The geologists of course thought that there must be rationality much more accurate than the paranormal and began to carry out studies in the region.

A desert in the middle of mountains

The Death Valley region is a desert located in the state of California, United States. It is precisely the beach, as the flat desert terrain that is dry most of the year is called, where the traveling stones walk. This region does not have any vegetation and its behavior has intrigued geologists, as it is unusual.

The desert plain is located 1,130 meters above sea level and is surrounded by mountains. To the east it borders the Cottonwood Mountains, to the west with the Last Chance mountain range, making it extraordinary to see from satellite views, as it looks like a completely flat small desert in the middle of large geological features.

In addition, it has an amazing feature, as it is almost perfectly flat. Only its northern end is barely 4 centimeters higher than its southern end. And although the beach is completely deserted almost all year round, during the summer very intense rainfall falls, forming a small lake that evaporates quickly, leaving a bed of mud.

It is precisely this bed that many geologists have put forward as the best explanation for the rock slide in Death Valley. Although research shows that the rocks weigh more than an average-sized human, high winds would be required to slide the rocks through the mud-covered sediment.

The explanation behind the walking stones

Until a few years ago the only thing we had was the movement path of the stones, which in some cases takes up to years to show activity. That is, it had not been possible to obtain videos that recorded the movement in situ, but that changed in 2014 when for the first time a scientific explanation behind the phenomenon was obtained.

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Researchers Richard and James Norris, as well as Ralph Lorenz, Jib Ray and Brian Jackson, published a paper in PLOS ONE, in which they claimed to have observed the stones sliding. According to his explanation, the geological phenomenon of rock sliding occurs when large sheets of ice form in the desert, although this is not the reason for the movement per se.

It is not until in the morning when the ice sheets melt and form ice panels just a few millimeters thick, combined with waterlogging of the ground, that the stones finally move from their place. This is why only during some moments of the year, the stones present movement, since it is not about the mud in the desert soil or the great winds, but about the appropriate climatic characteristics being present so that these abiotic objects can move without the help from some living being.