Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mysterious rocks stolen from Death Valley National Park

A roaming rock at Death Valley National Park's Racetrack Playa. (Ben Greenburg / National Park Service / May 30, 2013)

By Louis Sahagun
Los Angeles Times

Death Valley National Park officials are investigating the theft of several of the rocks that mysteriously roam across a remote ancient lake bed known as the Racetrack Playa.

Rocks of various sizes -- from baseball to basketball -- scoot across the 2.5-mile-long, oval-shaped mudflat on the north end of the park, leaving tracks that are straight, curved and even looped. Some tracks extend up to 600 feet.

Geologists theorize that the rocks slide after rain moistens the top few centimeters of the lake bed and a high wind pushes them around.

"We've had more instances of folks taking the rocks," Death Valley spokesman Terry Baldino said. "They don't seem to understand that outside of the Racetrack, these marvelous rocks have no value."