The phenomenon of moving stones in Belarus…

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Have long discussed the phenomenon of the movement of the stones on the bottom of a dried-up lake Racetrack Playa in the famous Death Valley (USA). Here the stones weigh several hundred pounds without the help of living creatures, moving slowly on the clay bottom of the lake, as evidenced by the footprints left behind them.

The length of the traces up to several tens of meters, their depth is about 2.5 cm Stones are set into motion only once in 2-3 years, and most of the traces of the movement is stored for 3-4 years. Stones with a ribbed bottom surface to leave more straight tracks, but the stones lying on the flat side, often have a curved path of motion. Occasionally during the movement of the stones turned over, which affects the nature of their track.

Reproductions of pictures of the moving rocks at the bottom of a dried-up lake Racetrack Playa in Death Valley (USA)

Феномен движущихся камней в... Беларуси

It’s surprising that the process of moving no one has ever seen or recorded on camera. Such movement of the stones was observed in some other places. There is a legend about a movable Blue stone on the shore of lake pleshcheeva…

Until now, this natural phenomenon has no definitive explanation, although the versions sometimes look quite convincing. It is therefore remarkable and mysterious moving rocks of Death Valley yet keep yourself in a thrilling affair.

Before the beginning of the XX-th century, this phenomenon was attributed to supernatural powers, and later it was suggested the effects of electromagnetic fields, it was assumed the influence of some gravitational manifestations, seasonal and climatic factors (e.g., icing, wind, etc.), but no suggestion has not found convincing evidence.

And a detailed study of the trajectories of stones, made in the 40’s – 50-ies of the last century, did not help to understand the nature of the phenomenon under study, but only added a whole new set of questions.

For example, why some rocks move and others are to lie still? Why stones are distributed around the bottom of the lake, and not just on the edges? Why sometimes there were only traces of the movement, but the stones disappeared? How the stones in one part of the lake moved in parallel, and in another part randomly?

And yet it moves

This fact shifts the stone was noted in vorša district in the Vitebsk region of Belarus. It is encouraging that this phenomenon can be attributed to a variety of reasons, physical and natural character, so the shifting stone had not originally considered by the author as a phenomenon.

The Northern slope of the hill on the left Bank of the river Adrov in the South-Eastern suburbs D. Zaitsev with the trace of a moving stone. In front of the stone is visible cushion of crumpled plastic movement of the soil. Photo by the author (11 may 2016).

Феномен движущихся камней в... Беларуси

Accidentally the stone and traces his movement was discovered by the author may 11, 2016 in southern suburbs D. Zaitsev. This place is the most elevated part of the left Bank of the river Adrov. There is a stone on the Northern slope of schollene and represents the angular block about 0.35 m in diameter (light obramleny limestone).

Maybe accidentally, but, so far, only here the movement of stone and his scent was so noticeable that they noticed. Previously in vorša district, the author was not necessary to observe this phenomenon. Explains it quite simple…

According to the author, the trace of the apparent picture of the progress of the stone formed during the last winter-spring period, the degree of overgrowing new grass at the time of detection was the same all over. The length of the visible track of progress is just over 3 meters. All this allows to judge the speed of the stone. The natural assumption would be that it was not uniform and varied significantly influenced by seasonal weather factors…

Moving the stone was by a step-ramp trajectory (with the side observation): the rise in the freezing wet the underlying soil, then the lowering-sliding on an inclined plane when it is thawing. This is periodically repeated in the frosty days of winter-spring period, and began, perhaps, in the first autumn of cyclic freezing and thawing of the soil.

It is not excluded that at this time the path showed signs of periodicity of the movement – they boldly stand out poorly, and, of course, over time, smoothed, blurred by rain and weathering. Approximately is possible even to calculate the amount of daily progress. With the termination of the period of freezing-thawing movement stopped (until next season). An obvious need for further observations of this phenomenon in the next season…

Moving the stone and trace its movement. Photo by the author (11 may 2016)

Феномен движущихся камней в... Беларуси

Probably, such «technology» travel only applies to boulders of a certain definite value: it is not «suitable» for too of small stones (their progress will be very small), and not able to raise-to move is too big (their weight, size and capacity they can prevent short-term freezing of the underlying and lifting them of the ground).

And the photographs of the stones in Death Valley boulders are roughly the same size. It is a vibrational process, requiring for its implementation of certain parameters and conditions. On the limit value of the moving stones and the size of the «step» of their cycle will interesting to reflect separately the results of follow-up observations.

By the way, formed from the movement of the stone to deepen (as a collector) it leaking a certain additional amount of melt and rain water, which further contributes to the process of soaking and saturation with moisture of the underlying clay soil and is conducive to the slide blocks.

Before the rock, during its movement, a good view of the cushion formed by the crushing of plastic soil…

Grooves from progress on the hillside there are some, perhaps, of stones also moved several. At the beginning of the trajectory movement in the soil, which were kept deepening, probably from when the freeze was «pushed» boulders, then came in motion on the hillside…

Thus, the drift (creep) of the rock slope is due to the volume change of soil when alternate freezing and thawing.

Creep (from the English. creep – to creep, crawl) is well known in Geology the process. It occurs under the action of gravity and the influence of periodic changes of the amount of ground caused by fluctuation in temperature (thermal creep), alternate freezing and thawing (permafrost or cryogenic creep), swelling and shrinkage of clay part when wetting and drying (gidrogenit creep), development and death of plant roots.

Given that similar findings earlier in vorša district is not mentioned, ignore the observed natural phenomenon, the author could not afford. Especially because of something vaguely related it to movement of stones us…

Observation of the stone

Monitoring of the stone during the following years (until may 2017) did not reveal any further progress. The confidence in them, given that stone has not yet reached the end of the slope, i.e., were potentially «able» to continue movement. As usual took the whole cycle, annual seasonality, and climate conditions of the past year was typical for the area.

Distance measurement, which «crawled» the stone. Photo by the author

Феномен движущихся камней в... Беларуси

Reflecting on the reasons for stopping further movement of the stone, you can assume the following:

like the rocks in Death Valley, and in vorša district, it «moves only once in 2-3 years» (which in both cases is still not understandable);

the beginning of the expected further movement was prevented by the formed by the crumpling of the plastic ground cushion in front of the stone, i.e. the impact of the «driving factors» was not enough to overcome its resistance;

— some of the former «enablers» over the past year, there has been not enough to continue the process of progress. May not have a clear periodicity cycles of freezing and thawing of the underlying soil, the narrower was the range of daily temperature fluctuations;

— this study could not take into account other reasons of a rock movement, changes in which caused it to stop. The most likely of these reasons seem to be temporarily resulting difference in the ratio of ground snow (rain) water.

Sisyphean task

Unexpected continuation was received by this topic June 26, 2017 at the next visit as described above a moving stone. Any new developments were reported, but 12 meters above on the hillside identified yet another small boulder with a very obvious trace of recent movements.

The stone is a flattened (thickness 0.1 m), angular boulder gray laminated quartzite with a maximum size up to 0.3 m.

Track his movements recent (no more than a few days or weeks), with a length of only 0.1 m, the direction of movement of the opposite (compared to the previously described here-moving stone): up the hill (!).

Progress «old» and «new» stones lie approximately on the same axis, but have opposite directions (!). And if to explain the movements of the «old» stone fit version of cryogenic creep, the progress Novoyavlenka boulder has some clearly of a different nature and occurred during the warm (June month) period…

Trying to figure out the cause of the progress of the stone has not given a reasonable convincing explanation of its fact. There are also no traces of outside influences on the boulder. Judging by the resulting from its movement the notch, before the stone was buried in the ground: just played the upper plane.

It is interesting that somehow there was not only the motion of the stone, but raising the edge of the bottom plane of the boulder from the side of the formed recess is located 2-3 cm above its bottom, and only the front part of the stone rests on a crumpled facing the ground. Cushion of crumpled development of the soil and stems from plants can be seen before the stone in the course of its movement.

Acceptable explanation for the movement of stone, you should probably recognize the phenomenon of biogenic creep: the impact of the process of development of the plant roots under the boulder. In confirmation, we should remember and frequently observed the destruction of asphalt pavement is intensively developing plants. Perhaps nothing else could interpret the raising of a stone at 2-3 cm above the level of its initial occurrence and of his progress up the hillside.

Same as shift-lifting of stone and the peculiarity of the season of the year – the beginning of the summer period of maximum active development of the plant world.

The second moving stone on the Northern slope of the hill on the left Bank of the river Adrov in the South-Eastern suburbs D. Zaitsev. In the picture to the right of the stone is clearly visible the recess from its initial occurrence. Edge of the depression created repeat the outlines of the stone.

Raw the bottom of the excavation with compacted soil and the complete absence in it of vegetation, pointing to the recent move of the boulder. Photo by the author (26 June 2017)

Феномен движущихся камней в... Беларуси

To confirm the hypothesis of biogenic progress of the boulder could be a simple inspection of the underlying-up of its soil or to turn the stone (the good, its small dimensions make it easy to do so), but before some time it was decided that no external action not to violate the process, observing the conditions of the experiment, and so far, only limited surface observation and measurements…

Of course, over time should appear next to the stone and plants, «disturbing» his original position. They, perhaps, will prove the truth of the assumptions presented here.

Alexander Shinkevich,

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