Death Valley – Scary Moving Rocks

Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest places in the world and is a desert valley in Eastern California. This area became known as Death Valley during the time of the California gold rush, around 1849, because of the numbers of prospectors who died there as they tried to make their way through it.

Badlands at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley

Not only is it a bleak and desolate place for most of the year, but it is also home to rocks which appear to exhibit an unusual ability to move – sometimes up to 3 to 5 metres per minute. It is a phenomena that has taxed scientists for a long time.

However, the mystery has now been solved. It seems there is a complex interaction between the dry lake beds on which the rocks sit, and ice that constantly forms, melts and re-forms.  The way that ice interacts with the temperature changes experienced in Death Valley, and the effect that has on the density of the rocks holds the key to our understanding of how it is that these rocks can travel.

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