Has the mystery of the moving stones of Death Valley been solved? Then how to explain this photo? (9 photos)

16 May 2024

In the western United States, southeast of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, there is one of the most terrible and mysterious places on Earth. Something unnatural is happening here...

Entrance to Death Valley. Right along the path, please...

But first, a few words about this place. This is the Death Valley National Park (Reserve). Its main part is an elongated depression, squeezed between two mountain ranges.

The highest temperature in the Western Hemisphere on record was recorded here: +56 degrees Celsius. (This was, however, in 1913.) However, in winter this depression is covered with snow and ice:

Death Valley in winter. Photo from space

The dimensions of this amazing and mysterious place: length 225 km, width - from 8 to 24 km. And now the main thing.

Next to the depression with a name that is attractive to brave tourists (exactly nearby, and not in the depression itself, as some sources write!) there is a dry mountain lake called Racetrack Playa. This is where mysterious events happen...

The intermountain depression “Death Valley” is outlined with a blue line. The bright spot inside the red circle is Racetrack Playa Lake. Both sites are part of Death Valley National Park

Most of the time there is no water in the lake. Only during the rainy season does water flow here from the slopes of the surrounding mountains, but quickly evaporates under the scorching sun. The clay bottom, when dried, cracks and forms a pattern of hexagons on a surface as flat as a table.

Here and there on the bottom of the lake you can see scattered rock fragments - quite large, weighing up to 300 kilograms! - behind which there is a peculiar trail, as if a stone was crawling, moving through the desert:

Take a look at this amazing sight:

The main thing is that these stones really move! Scientists drilled holes in several rocks and installed GPS satellite sensors there. Satellite data showed that stones actually move along the bottom... But only in winter. This discovery provided a clue to a possible solution.

Scientists have proposed the following hypothesis. During the rainy season, the bottom of the lake is covered with water, but the layer, as already mentioned, is quite thin. Then the temperature drops below zero, and an ice crust forms on top of the water, into which the stone freezes. Then the wind rises, which breaks the ice into large individual plates - and then such an ice plate with a frozen stone begins to float along a thin layer of water. The stone scratches a characteristic mark along the bottom and moves to a new place.

This is the picture I managed to take in winter. However, staying here for a long time for observations is physically impossible!

Is it logical? There is simply no other explanation... But look at the photos below. Do you believe that this is the work of the wind?

If this was done by a hardworking joker (and getting to Lake Racetrack Playa is oh so difficult), then how? The stones are heavy, so that they leave a mark, you need to move them on soft, not yet dry clay with effort, which means you have to push against the bottom of the lake with all your might... Where are the tracks?

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