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How Big Are The Sailing Rocks At Playa Racetrack? (Solution found)

The stone may have created its 570 ft (170 m) long, straight and old track from momentum gained from its initial fall onto the wet playa.

What are the sliding rocks at Racetrack Playa?

  • A sliding rock that has left a long track across the surface of Racetrack Playa. Some tracks are hundreds of feet long! (See below for several more sliding rock photos.) Image copyright iStockphoto / Steve Geer. One of the most interesting mysteries of Death Valley National Park is the sliding rocks at Racetrack Playa (a playa is a dry lake bed).

What are the rocks of Racetrack Playa?

Though no one has ever seen them actually move in person, the trails left behind the stones and periodic changes in their location make it clear that they do. The rocks of Racetrack Playa are composed of dolomite and syenite, the same materials that make up the surrounding mountains.

How do the rocks move in the Racetrack Playa?

Moving Rocks Erosional forces cause rocks from the surrounding mountains to tumble to the surface of the Racetrack. Once on the floor of the playa the rocks move across the level surface leaving trails as records of their movements. Some of the moving rocks are large and have traveled as far as 1,500 feet.

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Why do Death Valley rocks move?

There had to be a shallow layer of water in the dry lake bed and nighttime temperatures cold enough for the formation of a thin layer of ice. On sunny days, melting caused the ice to break into large floating panels that, driven by light winds, pushed against the rocks to move them, leaving tracks on the desert floor.

Why do the rocks move across the desert?

The pair discovered that on rare occasions when conditions are just right — with rain on the usually dried-up lake bed called the “Racetrack Playa,” followed by sunshine and wind — plates of thin ice push the rocks along the muddy desert floor, sometimes as quickly as several feet a minute, reports NPR.

How fast do sailing stones move?

The movement of the rocks occurs when large sheets of ice a few millimeters thick and floating in an ephemeral winter pond break up on sunny days. Frozen during cold winter nights, these thin, floating ice panels are driven by wind and shove rocks at speeds up to 5 meters per minute.

How cold does Death Valley get?

Winter daytime temperatures are mild in the low elevations, with cool nights that only occasionally reach freezing. Higher elevations are cooler than the low valley. Temperatures drop 3 to 5°F (2 to 3°C) with every thousand vertical feet gained(approx. 300m).

Is it worth going to Racetrack Playa?

Is Racetrack Playa worth it? If you are doing this only to snap a few photos of some rocks with trails, you might be disappointed. Sure, seeing the sailing stones is very cool but for us, it was not as exciting as we thought it would be. The footprints, tire tracks, and vandalism all take away from this experience.

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Can boulders move on their own?

Geologists know the flat, dry lake bed in California’s Death Valley National Park for one strange phenomenon: its slithering stones. Since the late 1940s, they’ve been investigating how boulders scattered across the land—some as big as compact fridges—seemingly move thousands of feet on their own.

How did the sliding rock form?

This was thought to occur when the playa was very wet, immediately after a rain that converted the surface of the playa into a slippery mud. Once a rock began to move, a wind of much lower velocity could keep it in motion as it slid across the soft and very slippery mud.

What is the elevation of Death Valley?

Death Valley National Park is home to the lowest point in North America, the Badwater Basin. This salt flat sits at 282 feet below sea level and is the most popular attraction in the park. No trip to the area would be complete without a stop there and it is located right in the heart of the Death Valley National Park.

Where does Racetrack Playa get its name?

Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park, California, is a dry lakebed, very flat and level. It gets its name from the tracks of moving rocks which have slid across its surface.

Where is the racetrack Death Valley?

The Racetrack Playa, or The Racetrack, is a scenic dry lake feature with “sailing stones” that inscribe linear “racetrack” imprints. It is located above the northwestern side of Death Valley, in Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, California, U.S.A.

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Why is it called Death Valley?

Death Valley was given its forbidding name by a group of pioneers lost here in the winter of 1849-1850. Even though, as far as we know, only one of the group died here, they all assumed that this valley would be their grave.

Where is the Death Valley located?

Death Valley, structural depression primarily in Inyo county, southeastern California, U.S. It is the lowest, hottest, and driest portion of the North American continent.

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