Monday, April 21, 2008


I still have an open mind about the discovery of what looks like a pyramid in the sea off Japan, but these mysterious stone circles are natural.
In some remote polar regions such as Spitsbergen (image above) there are stone circles, polygons, islands and stripes made from stone over hundreds of years of winter freezing and summer thawing.
As ice forms on the surface, water is sucked up from the underlying soil by capillary action and more soil is pulled upwards to take its place. As a result of this process, known as frost-heave, the bumps push upwards and displace loose stones lying on the surface. The stones collect in a circle up to two metres wide around each bump.
Scientists estimate that it could take up to 500 years for a pattern to form from scratch.
When a second mechanism interacts with the frost-heave, the soil around the stone piles are squeezed when the soil freezes and swells. If the squeezing is strong, avalanches of stones form lines and polygons.
Different conditions create the other patterns: if the stones are sparse, they collect in islands, if the ground is sloped, the stones gather into stripes.


Brian Hughes said...

Going to have to disagree with you about these, Witchy. They're not natural at all. They're the fossilized remains of a prehistoric tyre dump.

Lad Litter said...

Fascinating, Jahteh. What would Erik Von Daniken make of it, I wonder? I've tagged you for a meme, the 5 Weird or Random Things About Me one.

Jayne said...

Great photo and article :)

River said...

I love when nature makes patterns like this. The sizes of the designs are amazing and the patterns are inspiring.

JahTeh said...

Fleetwood, really have to get my eyes tested, nearly missed tyre in that comment. It's something that happens frequently with your comments.

Ladlitter, you just mentioned the antiquarian's anti-christ. Last I heard the old fraud was raising money to build Van Daniken land theme park.
I think the whole blogosphere knows every weird thing about me but I'm sure I have some hidden.

Jayne, there'll be lots more of this. I'm throwing out 6 years of New Scientist but not before I check every issue.

River, there's an explanation for just about everything but not quite all. I still believe in fairy rings and full moon wishes.

Jayne said...

I'll point my Feral Beast over here to have a gander at these great articles, Jahteh ;)

OT - The Great St Trinians Train Robbery, Midday Friday, Channel 9.

JahTeh said...

Already hilighted in my tv guide Jayne. I've come across some interesting archealogy articles in the Magazines so if you send me an email address I'll scan them for the Beastie.

Middle Child said...

ain't nature grand?