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  #1  
Old 08-27-2014, 09:31 PM
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Mystery of moving rocks on Death Valley lake bed solved (probably)

Racetrack Playa mystery in Death Valley solved - GrindTV.com

Quote:
One popular theory was that strong winter winds upward to 90 mph combined with just enough rain to make the clay slippery caused the stones to “sail.”

Another is that ice sheets pick up the rocks, or ice forms around the rock enabling it to move with the wind, leaving a series of rock trails.

But now, the mystery is solved.

Scientists can say conclusively that these synchronized trails left by rocks, some up to 700 pounds, are caused by thin sheets of ice pushing the rocks across the desert floor under certain conditions, a theory that had been previously dismissed in 1976 after a test.
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Last edited by cmac2012; 08-28-2014 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:02 PM
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So these thin sheets of ice have the rocks locked in and are blown around? ...the rocks acting as sails?
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t walgamuth View Post
So these thin sheets of ice have the rocks locked in and are blown around? ...the rocks acting as sails?
The impression I got, implausible as it sounds, is that an ice sheet of some size, when locked around the rocks, will be moved enough by friction with the wind to push the rocks. They said winds of 8 mph would do it. All I can figure is if the ice sheet is large enough, the friction of wind blowing over it will be large enough to move the rocks.
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Old 08-27-2014, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmac2012 View Post
The impression I got, implausible as it sounds, is that an ice sheet of some size, when locked around the rocks, will be moved enough by friction with the wind to push the rocks. They said winds of 8 mph would do it. All I can figure is if the ice sheet is large enough, the friction of wind blowing over it will be large enough to move the rocks.
Seems to me that if a rock is embedded in the ice it's surface must provide some area for the wind to work on as well as blowing the ice sheet itself.

- Peter.
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  #5  
Old 08-27-2014, 11:47 PM
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Exclamation Death Valley: the place that care forgot.

Just about *NOTHING* would surprise me about that place, it's weirdness is SO extreme it kinda creeps me out.

So much so, that when me and the fiancée were driving back from Las Vegas a few months ago I avoided going in there completely;

I went there years ago and explored some of it in my car; The Ubehebe crater, a pretty perfectly formed upside -down conical shaped crater - maybe from a meteor hit millions/billions of years ago - was (as an example of weirdness) full of howling wind that went round and round and round in circles like in a huge cake mixing bowl


(pics here : -- and it was a volcanic explosion actually)
http://www.protrails.com/gallery/143/california/death-valley-national-park/ubehebe-crater-and-little-uhebe-crater.)

When I crept over to the edge for a closer look into it, the wind was so strong, it came over the edge of the crater, - and threw me on my ass - REAL hard!!! Luckily for me, I went sprawling BACKWARDS - and not sideways or forward - which would have sent me flying ass over tea kettle down hundreds of feet into the crater below:


C U R T A I N S for Jim B.


And the heat made me dizzy, I don't do well in heat over 115* F.

On the way out of there, near Death Valley Scotty's Castle when I got out to take a look, I got stabbed in the head by a Cactus! Hurt like H E L L !

I think it got named Death Valley for a (number) of GOOD reasons!
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Last edited by Jim B.; 08-28-2014 at 12:10 AM.
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  #6  
Old 08-28-2014, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
Just about *NOTHING* would surprise me about that place, it's weirdness is SO extreme it kinda creeps me out.

And the heat made me dizzy, I don't do well in heat over 115* F.
A place I've not managed to see yet, though I've always wanted to. One of these days perhaps. Heat you say? Meh! I'm from Phoenix...

- Peter.
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  #7  
Old 08-28-2014, 12:16 AM
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Talking Arizona heat you say?

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Originally Posted by pj67coll View Post
A place I've not managed to see yet, though I've always wanted to. One of these days perhaps. Heat you say? Meh! I'm from Phoenix... ...

- Peter.
Hahahaha

They sell t shirts down in Tucson showing two skeletons sitting side by side in lawn chairs in sunglasses reaching down for their cocktails on the ground beside them.

Underneath, the slogan reads: " Arizona - But it's a DRY Heat"
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  #8  
Old 08-28-2014, 12:33 AM
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My father visited the place a while back, and captured the said moving rocks in his photography. When he told me about the moving rocks, I did not believe him. How can ice sheets form in such hot conditions?

Photography Sharing at BetterPhoto
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  #9  
Old 08-28-2014, 02:47 AM
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Deserts can get very cold in the winter time. I imagine this lake gets some layer of water every winter. I found it on Google Earth - it isn't real large - 2.7 miles long and 1.2 wide at it's widest point. It seems to drain a fairly large area - wouldn't be that flat if it didn't. Has some smallish mountains around it - it itself is around 3700 feet altitude, the mountains around it, 4, 5, and 6 K. I grew up in Roswell, NM - similar altitude, 3600 ft. - and we got snow almost every winter, and Roswell is further south - 33.2 deg lat. compared to 36.4 for the Playa.

I saw a few pics that showed the remnants of people walking on it while still wet and muddy. Not good. People ought to have the sense to treat it with more respect, IMO. In the heat of summer, can be walked on without leaving much of a trace.

At first I was wondering about the frictional forces of wind on flat ice sheets. But then I recalled seeing pictures of lakes where the wind had blown broken surface ice into huge piles on one side of it. Did a web search and it's pretty common.

I'm sure the wind exerts some force on the stones themselves but if the piece of ice attached to any rock or group of rocks is large, I imagine the cumulative force could be pretty large.
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Mystery of moving rocks on Death Valley lake bed solved (probably)-racetrack-playa.jpg  
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Last edited by cmac2012; 08-28-2014 at 02:59 AM.
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  #10  
Old 08-28-2014, 03:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
Just about *NOTHING* would surprise me about that place, it's weirdness is SO extreme it kinda creeps me out.

So much so, that when me and the fiancée were driving back from Las Vegas a few months ago I avoided going in there completely;

I went there years ago and explored some of it in my car; The Ubehebe crater, a pretty perfectly formed upside -down conical shaped crater - maybe from a meteor hit millions/billions of years ago - was (as an example of weirdness) full of howling wind that went round and round and round in circles like in a huge cake mixing bowl


(pics here : -- and it was a volcanic explosion actually)
ProTrails | Ubehebe Crater and Little Uhebe Crater, Photo Gallery, Death Valley National Park, California.)

When I crept over to the edge for a closer look into it, the wind was so strong, it came over the edge of the crater, - and threw me on my ass - REAL hard!!! Luckily for me, I went sprawling BACKWARDS - and not sideways or forward - which would have sent me flying ass over tea kettle down hundreds of feet into the crater below:


C U R T A I N S for Jim B.


And the heat made me dizzy, I don't do well in heat over 115* F.

On the way out of there, near Death Valley Scotty's Castle when I got out to take a look, I got stabbed in the head by a Cactus! Hurt like H E L L !

I think it got named Death Valley for a (number) of GOOD reasons!
I've not been yet. Have seen some wild desert country in the west but not that one. Grand Junction, CO is pretty wild. Climbed some large buttes there. The desert country in Eastern WA north of Wenatchee that the Columbia flows through is some kind of scene. Love that drive.

I explored Sevier Lake, a mostly dry salt lake bed in So. Utah years ago when I drove by. Fairly large, 26 x 8 miles, it was fascinating. I don't think I've ever been anywhere quite so silent. The floor was a farily firm mud with a layer of salt about 1/2 " thick. Black, stinky mud underneath. Your feet would sink about an eighth to a quarter of an inch.

I'd like to go to Racetrack Playa just for the geography, the stones would be an extra plus.
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Last edited by cmac2012; 08-28-2014 at 03:42 AM.
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  #11  
Old 08-28-2014, 07:16 AM
t walgamuth's Avatar
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I imagine the thin layer of water under the ice sheet acts as lubricant.

I've been to death valley in the winter. I found it fascinating. Not hot either.
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  #12  
Old 08-28-2014, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t walgamuth View Post
I imagine the thin layer of water under the ice sheet acts as lubricant.

I've been to death valley in the winter. I found it fascinating. Not hot either.
Yes, I must admit to being a tad cynical in my other post. Death Valley appeals more as a winter than a summer trip.

- Peter.
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  #13  
Old 08-31-2014, 01:38 PM
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I do have a theory on another unexplained mystery ,this surrounds the Easter Island stone carvings and what was the reasoning behind their construction.It was only after watching a documentory of the islands history and who lived their that some details came to light .The native islanders did have boats and traveled extensively across open ocean .The fact that other tribes had the same access to their island gave me the idea that perhaps the reason for the multiple carvings was to have a viewable identafiable kind of lighthouse, a set fire via awaiting families could help to guide the travelers towards home,the stones would easily let them know that they were approaching home and not a possible enemies island during a nighttime landing.
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Old 08-31-2014, 01:45 PM
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Might be some plausibility to that. Those things were pretty big. One horrible irony, I gather that after they'd deforested the lsland, they could build no new boats and were stuck there. I can only imagine the existing boats would wear out soon enough.
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