Racetrack Playa is the bed of a now dry lake located in Death Valley National Park in California. The desert is home to a geological phenomenon of "moving stones", huge boulders that surpass the weight of man, yet move on their own. The interesting thing is the trails left by the boulders on the surface are all quite different from each other. Some are zigzag while others move in a straight line. These inexplicable movements have intrigued onlookers for years, who are in search for a scientific explanation.
The phenomenon of Racetrack Playa moving stones are also known as moving rocks or sliding rocks and were first reported around 1940. The mystery was solved in 2014 by Richard Norris, a paleo-grapher of the "Scripps Institution of San Diego". Via GPS and a time-lapse video, he managed to document the phenomenon by publishing the solution of the mystery in the online scientific journal "Plos One".
The moving of the rocks is nothing more than the combined action of ice and wind. The playa is a very dry place, but during the winter it is washed by weak rains that cover the ground with a few centimeters of water. During the night, when the night temperatures plummet below zero, the pools freeze and then melt during the day under the sun's rays. When the blocks of ice come into contact with mud, the soil is then less resistant. It is then pushed by the wind which then begins to slowly move them. This slow movement occurs every two or three years, with trails that can reach a few dozen meters.
This is a site of extraordinary beauty which is worth admiring – a true wonder of nature. For more information on how to go to Racetrack Playa, you can consult with the National Park Service website.
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