Moving rocks (2)

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              A true story

Tuxyso

 Death Valley, California.  Photo: Tuxyso


No one really knows the answer to this mystery. Some people think they know. But not everyone agrees. To solve this mystery, someone will need to think very carefully [think very well]. Why not YOU?

You have traveled far from home. You are driving across a desert [see photo above]. The desert is the hottest place on earth in the summer. It’s called Death Valley. It is in the state of California. It is the driest [dry: without water] place in North America.  

sailstone4_med

Photo public domain.

You are looking for a lake that does not have water now. The lake is 5 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide. It is flat. The lake has mountains all around it. When it rains a lot in the mountains, the rain runs down into the lake. It rains twice [2 times] each  year: in the summer and in the winter. When it rains, a little water covers part of the lake, but not all of it. Under the hot desert sun, the water quickly dries up. But for a short time, the ground is muddy and slippery.  

In the spring, snow from the mountains melts and runs into the lake. At night when the temperature is very cold it freezes. The ice is from 2.5 to 6.5 centimeters thick. But the ice covers only part of the lake. It never covers all of the lake.


HOW DO THE STONES MOVE?

There are rocks in the lake that mysteriously [strangely, without an explanation] move across it, but no one knows how. No one has ever seen the rocks move. The rocks do not move every year. Sometimes a rock moves one year, but doesn’t move again for 2 or 3 years. Rocks with rough sides move in straight lines. Rocks with smooth sides move anywhere. The biggest rocks weigh 315 kilograms. 

Most people think the rocks move in the spring, when the snow melts in the moutains. The melting snow runs into the lake. The shallow [not deep] water in the lake freezes at night around the rocks. During the day, when the ice begins to melt, the rock is still on the ice. The wind moves the water and ice and carries the rock to a new place. The rocks make a path as they move. 

What do you think?!  Can wind really move a 315 kilogram rock sitting on a piece of ice?  In the year 1972, scientists put marks on some of the rocks and gave them names. One rock was called Karen.  For seven years Karen did not move. The next year the rock mysteriously moved 3 kilometers! How?

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