The rocks that move across the dry desert sand in Death Valley are a phenomenon tagged with many theories since their discovery in the 1940s. The rocks move and leave their trails in the sand behind them and while theories from small frequent earthquakes to aliens have been tossed around, a pair of scientist cousins have the proof of what is going on in Death Valley today, according to ABC News on Aug. 28.
The mystery of Death Valley’s sailing stones have perplexed even the brightest minds around the world for decades, but now it has been witnessed and understood just how this happens and why, thanks to two very inquisitive and resourceful researchers, according to Yahoo News today.
Two researchers, cousins Richard Norris and James Norris from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, saw this phenomenon occur before their very eyes. After a year of fitting rocks with GPS systems and studying the rock’s movements, the real proof came one day as the cousins sat in the morning sun overlooking the site where the rocks are found.
The movement is made possible when rare overnight rains form ice sheets that melt as the morning sun rises. The hard ground turns muddy and slick and then the light winds push these rocks at about 15-feet per minute. The cousin's time lapse filming of the stones along with the GPS instruments have offered up the evidence of the energy behind the moving stones.
They saw this movement for themselves when they were out there checking the equipment. It happened to be on a day that the rare night rains came the night before. As they sat there admiring the desert they heard ice crackling and they saw the shards of ice stacked up along the shoreline. A light wind had picked up and the rocks were moving. In the cousin’s own words:
"We were sitting on a mountainside and admiring the view when a light wind kicked up and the ice started cracking," he said. "Suddenly, the whole process unfolded before our eyes."