Moving stones in the Valley of Death

Scientists have not been able to solve the riddle of moving stones in California’s Death Valley for 100 years.

Several versions have been proposed as to why the stones themselves move on flat ground, leaving long furrows behind them. The most plausible theory claimed that the combined effects of wind, temperature and moisture in the soil were “to blame”. Dunning, a researcher from the USA, suggested that since the surface of a dried-up lake sometimes freezes, the wind easily pushes even very heavy stones along a thin ice crust.

And now the international scientific publication PLOS One wrote that scientists from the Scripps Oceanographic Institute have found out and even documented the process of stone movement. It looks like Dunning’s hypothesis has been confirmed.

The experiment was carried out for a year. More than a dozen artificial stones were placed on the bottom of the lake with a GPS receiver and video cameras attached. The stones began to move at dawn, after a frosty night, when a crust of ice formed. They moved under the influence of the wind.

Long before that, NASA specialist Ralph Lorenz decided to test Dunning’s assumptions. The scientist placed a small stone in a pot of water, the water level did not exceed three centimeters. Then I put the pan in the freezer. When everything was frozen, he took out the icy stone and placed it in a tray with sand. It turned out that if you just blew on it, then movement began, and behind there was a trail similar to those left by stones in the Valley of Death.

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