Sailing and Moving Rocks and Stones of Death Valley
The mysterious moving stones of the packed-mud desert of Death Valley have been a center of scientific controversy for decades. Rocks weighing up to hundreds of pounds have been known to move up to hundreds of yards at a time. Some scientists have proposed that a combination of strong winds and surface ice account for these movements. However, this theory does not explain evidence of different rocks starting side by side and moving at different rates and in disparate directions. Moreover, the physics calculations do not fully support this theory as wind speeds of hundreds of miles per hour would be needed to move some of the stones.
Hoax or Fact:
The story shows pictures of high-weight rocks and stones moving and sailing with the winds in Death Valley, claiming that it is a mysterious phenomenon that science can't explain. The story is a fact. The rocks and stones in Death Valley do move and sail with the winds, but there is definite scientific reason behind this phenomenon.
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California that features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. It is situated at 282 feet below the sea-level. The hot temperatures can go up to 56.7 C in summers, and can go as low as -9 C during winters. The highest winds during mid-spring and early summer travel with speeds up to 11 mph.
Geologists studied this phenomenon over the years and came to a conclusion that it is the extreme weather conditions in death valley that is causing these stones to move and sail with the wind. Note that the stones and rocks move gradually over a period of years to form a trace path, and the largest stone that was observed to move was 80 pounds (36 kg). Most of these rock formations are either dolomite or igneous that are formed as a result of consolidation of carbonate minerals or lava. This sailing and moving phenomenon of stones and rocks will be possible under certain weather conditions at Death Valley. It happens when:
The ground surface becomes saturated yet non-flooded,
A thin layer of clay if formed,
Very strong gusts as initiating force, and
Strong sustained wind blows to keep stones going.
Further studies proved that the ice formation over these surfaces under very low temperatures also aids the sliding and moving of these rocks. Scientists explained this phenomenon by creating a similar platform and weather for same stones and have shown them to be moving and slide. The video on the right shows how this could be possible.
Therefore, sliding rocks in Death Valley is a fact that can happen in rarest weather conditions.