The Sliding Rocks of Racetrack Playa

By George
In Interesting
Aug 19th, 2013
0 Comments
1937 Views

419236_227645990652422_734593386_n

The Sliding Rocks of Racetrack Playa

One of the most interesting mysteries of Death Valley National Park is the sliding rocks at Racetrack Playa (a playa is a dry lake bed). These rocks can be found on the floor of the playa with long trails behind them. Somehow these rocks slide across the playa, cutting a furrow in the sediment as they move.

Some of these rocks weigh several hundred pounds. That makes the question: “How do they move?” a very challenging one.

The truth: No one knows for sure exactly how these rocks move – although a few people have come up with some pretty good explanations. The reason why their movement remains a mystery: No one has ever seen them in motion!

About Racetrack Playa :

Racetrack playa is lake bed that is almost perfectly flat and almost always dry. It is about 4 kilometers long (2.5 miles – north to south) and about 2 kilometers wide (1.25 miles – east to west). The surface is covered with mudcracks and the sediment is made up mainly of silt and clay.

The climate in this area is arid. It rains just a couple of inches per year. However, when it rains, the steep mountains which surround Racetrack Playa produce a large amount of runoff that converts the playa floor into a broad shallow lake. When wet, the surface of the playa is transformed into a very soft and very slippery mud.

Read more(Wikipedia):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing_stones

More photos and stories:
http://geology.com/articles/racetrack-playa-sliding-rocks.shtml

facebook comments: