For years scientists have theorized about how large rocks - some weighing hundreds of pounds - zigzag across Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park, leaving long trails etched in the earth. Now two researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have photographed these "sailing rocks" being blown by light winds across the former lake bed. Cousins Richard Norris and James Norris say the movement is made possible when ice sheets that form after rare overnight rains start melting as the day warms, with the ice and water and rocks are pushed along by wind. Once the ice melts, it looks the stones moved by themselves.
The findings were published Wednesday in the online journal PLOS ONE.
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