RACETRACK’S STONES.

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TANUJ BANSAL.

After reading my articles on, Blood Rain, Aurora, Bioluminescent Creatures, you may want to get amazed again with another strange and mysterious natural phenomenon but this time its not in seas, or in the sky and not even in the forest, but on a dryland area. Ever seen moving rocks on their own, just imagine what would have been in your thoughts when your eyes experience moving rock like when you’re walking down that dryland area and you hear a sound and when you look back there’s really a rock but the thing is, its chasing you, is it a ghost or a supernatural power inside the earth’s surface? are you going to run? Will you be scared or like all those curious scientists, you will just observe and think why in the name of God is this happening, like what is the reason, what’s the science behind this? Well, obviously I can’t read your mind as I am not a seer from Norse mythology and tell what you would’ve done or thought but if you ask about me, I would have run at first, then stopped and thought for a second why am hell I running instead of observing and getting indulged into finding the roots and the discovered reasons behind this phenomenon and its history. Well, I’m a journalist, what else do you expect.

LET’S GET TO THE ROOTS THEN!

This geological phenomenon in which rocks move and inscribe long tracks along a smooth valley floor without animal intervention. The movement of rocks occurs when a large sheets of ice, a few mm thick and floating in ephemeral winter pond break up on sunny days. Frozen during cold nights, these thin, floating ice panels are driven by winds and shove rocks at speeds up to 5 meters per minute. Trails and sliding rocks have been observed and studied at various locations but is most famous at Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California, where the number and length of tracks are notable.

Stones are of three lithologic types are identified: syenite, dolomite and most commonly black dolomite and stones with rough bottom leave straight striated tracks, while those with smooth bottoms tend to wander. Stones sometimes turn over, exposing another edge to the ground and leaving a different track in stone’s wake.

Trails differ in both direction and length. Rocks that start next to each other may travel parallel for a time, before one abruptly changes direction to the left, right, or even back to the direction from which it came. Trail length also varies – two similarly sized and shaped rocks may travel uniformly, then one could move ahead or stop in its track.

A balance of very specific conditions is thought to be needed for stones to move is flooded surface, a thin layer of surface, wind, ice foes and warming temperature causing ice breakup.

At Racetrack Playa, these tracks have been studied since the early 1900s, yet the origins of stone movement were not confirmed and remained the subject of research the subject of research for which several hypotheses existed. However, as of August 2014, timelapse video footage of rocks moving has been published, showing the rocks moving at high wind speeds within the flow of thin, melting sheets of ice. The scientists have us thus identified the cause of the moving stones to be ice shove.  

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