One of the most famous landmarks in the southwestern United States is Death Valley. This vast desert is also home to one of the greatest mysteries of the ages.
In an area known as the “Racetrack playa” in Death Valley near the western border of Arizona, there are an amazingly large number of stones, ranging in size from mere pebbles to half ton boulders that regularly travel by themselves and no one has ever been able to explain why!
These huge stones move of their own volition, leaving miles of zig-zagged, curved and straight tracks that have continued to baffle the scientific community for decades. As you can see by the photos, the hardened surface of the landscape is marbled with the trails of water rivulets that would make concealing evidence of outside interference impossible. So the big question is, just how DO these mysterious stones move?
Early studies of the Sailing Stones began when geologists Allen Agnew and Jim McAllister mapped the area and noted the tracks left by the boulders in 1948. After that, these Sailing Stones were forgotten or ignored by scientists for two decades.
Then, in 1968, two scientists from the Institute of Technology in California conducted an ambitious seven year study tracking the stones that involved painstakingly mapping their movements by noting their positions at regular intervals. Although their data and their methods of observation were sound and well documented, their conclusions were found to be faulty.
In their report, the two geologists wrote that “the wind is able to pick up the rocks and start them moving. They push aside the very slippery mud and slide along on the firm surface.” According to Sharp and Carey, surface water would freeze overnight, creating a slippery surface upon which the rocks were propelled.
Admittedly, during the rainy season the water can flood the surface of the “playa” rather quickly, but the volume and the strength of the water current would simply not be enough to provide sufficient propulsion. This video demonstrates how fast the water usually advances across the ground:
As I mentioned earlier, Carey and Sharp maintained that the rocks would sometimes zig-zag across the desert floor in these erratic patterns because of shifting winds. Even at first glance, this theory is flimsy at best.
Yet amazingly, it was widely accepted until 1991, when yet another geologist studied the enigmatic stones and brought his students along to test the validity of the earlier findings.
This time, John Reid from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and a group of students converged on the stones en masse, during a time where the weather conditions matched those stated in the 1968 study. Reid and his students slid in the mud quite easily but they attempted as a group to push, shove and/or pull the rocks with ropes. Yet nothing could budge them and despite their valiant efforts, the rocks remained stubbornly immobile.
“The Tristan Effect” is yet another theory that has recently been suggested. The University of Zurich conducted research dealing with the actual physical properties of the rocks themselves. Their theory maintains that the air within the porous interior of the rocks compresses during the sub-zero nights.
The next day, the intense desert heat and sun causes the air inside to once again expand and thus propel the rocks along their paths. However, this writer doubts the validity of the theory.
I highly doubt that anything short of an explosion would cause enough sudden changes in air pressure surrounding the rocks to cause them to move. If that were the case, I would think the rocks would become unstable due to these repeated changes of internal pressure and eventually crumble.
Even now, the scientific community is still investigating and trying to discover just how these rocks move. Currently, they are being tracked with GPS devices and satellite tracking. It would also be interesting to discover if time lapse photography or video surveillance cameras could shed light on their movements.
Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but I continue to find it intriguing that these Sailing Stones happen to be in a reasonably close proximity to the famed Roswell Area 51. Being interested in ancient ley lines and their alignments with heightened strengths of lines in the magnetic field of our planet, I can’t help but think there may be a connection.
For now, I suppose, our planet and these fascinating Sailing Stones will simply have to continue to mystify, enchant and baffle us.
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