Anorak

Anorak | How Death Valley’s Sliding Rocks Move

How Death Valley’s Sliding Rocks Move

by | 29th, August 2014

Sliding rocks

THE Mystery of Death Valley’s sliding rocks has been solved. Walkers in Death Valley stumble upon rocks lying at the end of trails. How did they move?

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego:

Racetrack Playa is home to an enduring Death Valley mystery. Littered across the surface of this dry lake, also called a “playa,” are hundreds of rocks some weighing as much as 320 kilograms (700 pounds) that seem to have been dragged across the ground, leaving synchronized trails that can stretch for hundreds of meters.

What powerful force could be moving them? Researchers have investigated this question since the 1940s, but no one has seen the process in action until now.

In a paper published in the journal  PLOS ONE  on Aug. 27, a team led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, paleobiologist Richard Norris reports on first-hand observations of the phenomenon.

Because the stones can sit for a decade or more without moving, the researchers did not originally expect to see motion in person. Instead, they decided to monitor the rocks remotely by installing a high-resolution weather station capable of measuring gusts to one-second intervals and fitting 15 rocks with custom-built, motion-activated GPS units. (The National Park Service would not let them use native rocks, so they brought in similar rocks from an outside source.) The experiment was set up in winter 2011 with permission of the Park Service. Then in what Ralph Lorenz of the Applied Physics Laboratory

You have already read 1 premium article for free today
Access immediately the premium content with Multipass

Or come back tomorrow



Posted: 29th, August 2014 | In: Strange But True Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink