Sailing stones of Death Valley


I was watching a Nature program a little while ago and the show’s focus was Death Valley and the adaptations necessary to exist there.  As an aside they mentioned the mysterious sailing stones that appear to drift around leaving tracks in this mostly bone dry wasteland.  I had seen something about the topic earlier and now that I have a blog I thought I would throw my idea out…

It seems clear from the research I have read that the movement only happens when there is water in the area and while many people question that idea that air movement has enough energy to move the rocks (some over 80 lbs, though the winds can get over 90 mph), I was thinking that perhaps what is occurring is water being blown against the stone is the motive force, and not the wind directly.  Water is much denser than air, thus has the ability to exert a great deal more force per unit area than wind, thus lower speed winds could result in the movement.

However, after reading the Wiki page, the idea of the ice float helping to lift the stone as well as providing more area for the wind to blow against (though if the ice is flat it wouldn’t do so much) is also intriguing.  Since it seems no one has caught them in the act (challenging if it only happens with 90 mph winds!) and it might not happen for a couple of years at a time, it might remain a mystery for quite some time.

Author: Tfoui

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