Death Valley’s “Slithering Stones” Mystery Solved

A Death Valley visitor patiently waits at the Racetrack Playa for a rock to move. (PHOTO CREDIT: Mona Mesereau, Visit Death Valley)
A Death Valley visitor patiently waits at the Racetrack Playa for a rock to move. (PHOTO CREDIT: Mona Mesereau, Visit Death Valley)

For at least a century, the “slithering stones” of Death Valley — rocks, some of them boulders weighing more than 600 pounds, that move across the desert floor and leave long trails behind them — have presented a puzzle, and researchers have been trying to solve it since 1948.

Explanations including dust devils, flooding, hurricane-strength winds, and even UFOs have been offered, but the mystery was finally solved when researchers caught the rocks in the act, National Geographic reports.

Scientist Richard Norris and his cousin James Norris, an engineer, put GPS trackers on the stones, surrounded them with cameras, and were amazed to discover that the movement was caused by ice — in one of the hottest and driest spots on the planet.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: USA Today
Rob Quinn, Newser

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