Death Valley Mysteries
On the geographical map of the world one can find names that horrify involuntarily: the Hill of the Dead, the Swamp of the Devil, Death’s Gorge… Each of them is associated with many mysterious legends that tell not just about the accidental death of a careless traveler, but about the phenomena repeated, mysterious and incomprehensible. Modern scientists are still unable to find an explanation for many events occurring in such anomalous zones.
The name Death Valley was given to several territories located in different parts of our planet. One of the most famous in Russia is the Kamchatka Death Valley. It is located on the territory of the Kronotsky Reserve, not far from the Valley of Geysers and Uzon Volcano Caldera. This piece of land is about 300 m wide and 2 km long. It has earned its notoriety by the fact that the entire valley is strewn with the carcasses of small animals and birds, although you can even meet bears. Hunters try to avoid this area, and dogs that get into this area soon die. Scientists speculate that cyanide gases released from cracks in the ground, which cause respiratory paralysis, are the reason for the mass death of animals. But this is just a guess, since no research has been done.
In Yakutia, in the upper reaches of the Vilyui River, there is also a mysterious, mysterious area. Some of the old-timers claim that there is a hidden entrance to hell, where unknown creatures live. Others talk about numerous pieces of flying saucers, hidden in the permafrost. And the name of the area is very eloquent: Yelyuyu Cherkechekh, which means Valley of Death in Yakut. For several decades, local hunters have been going around this wilderness area for a hundred versts. According to legends, in the Valley of Death there is a flattened arch protruding from the ground, and under it there are many metal rooms. They are unusual in that in the bitterest frost they are as warm as in summer. More than once among the local hunters there were desperate daredevils who were not afraid to spend the night in these rooms. But afterwards, all of them died of an unknown disease.
Another mysterious object located in Yelyuyu Cherkecheh is a smooth metal hemisphere of red color with a very smooth, razor-sharp edge. It protrudes from the permafrost in the form of a dome, so that you can ride a deer under it. The phenomenon of the Viliui Valley of Death has been attracting researchers for centuries. Stories of how these incredible constructions appeared on the banks of the Yakut river are preserved in the legends that have been passed on from mouth to mouth by the region’s old residents for hundreds of years. In ancient times, tongues of flame burst out of a metal pipe deep underground from time to time. Within the tube lived Uot Usulu Tong Duuray, a giant who “shoots fireballs”. His name translates as “the fiend who pierced the earth, taking refuge in the hole and destroying everything around him.”
As far back as the last century, the famous explorer of Vilyui R. Maak wrote: “On the bank of the river Algiy Timirnit, which means “big cauldron drowned”, there really is a giant cauldron of copper. Its size is unknown, as only the edge can be seen above the ground. But there are several trees growing in it”.
One of the researchers of the ancient cultures of Yakutia N. Arkhipov wrote about strange objects in the Vilyui Death Valley: “Among the population of the Vilyui river basin there has been a legend about the presence of huge bronze pots of olguys in the upper reaches of the river since ancient times. This legend deserves special attention, because several rivers with Yakut names are attached to these supposed locations of mythical cauldrons: “Olguydakh”, which means “boiler house”.
Modern researchers from Mirny A. Gutinev and V. Mikhailovsky told of the testimony of an old resident of the area, who visited the Valley of Death. The nomad told that accidentally while hunting he wandered into Yelyuyu Cherkecheh and, seeing iron caves in the ground, went down there. Inside the caves there were one-eyed, skinny people in iron clothes, frozen through. Other elderly hunters also confirmed the old nomad’s story.
In the archives of the newspaper “Trud” there is a letter of M.P. Koretsky from Vladivostok: “I’ve been to Yelyuya Cherkecheh three times. In 1933, 1939 and 1949. As for the mysterious objects, there must be many of them. Because in three seasons I have seen seven such cauldrons. All of them seem to me absolutely mysterious. Firstly, they are 6 to 9 m in diameter. Secondly, they are made of an incomprehensible metal: even a sharpened chisel will not take it. The metal does not break off or bend. The boiler is covered on top with a layer of an unknown material that looks like sandpaper. But it is not an oxide film or scale. Nor can it be chipped or scratched. I noted that the vegetation around the boilers is abnormal, not at all like the vegetation that grows around them. It is more lush, 1.5-2 times higher than human height…”. There is still no exact answer to the question: what are these cauldrons and what is their nature?
In the same places, not far from Vilyuisk, there is another “devil’s place” – Lake Kakhynaydaakh. Fallen trees, piles of coal slag and burnt clay pile up on its shores. The ancestors of the present-day Yakuts thought the lake was not a good place to live. Dead animals were often found on its shores, and some hunters, straying carelessly into these places, paid with their lives. According to legend, a fisherman once came to the lake and cast his net expecting a catch. But the evil spirits that inhabited the lake became furious with him. The black water of Kahynaydaakh began to boil and foam. There was a terrible crash and a column of blue fire shot up to the sky. The fisherman got frightened and ran away. Only when everything calmed down, he returned for the seine and saw that the net was full of cooked fish.
Already in our time, a geological expedition determined that the lake of death appeared on the site of a giant underground fire. Several thousand years ago, at a depth of 50 meters self-flamed deposits of coal, which gradually burned out, the soil settled, the resulting pit filled with groundwater, and the voids under the lake accumulated gas. When the flames of the underground fire approached this underground storage, a series of powerful explosions began. Then carbon monoxide escaping through the cracks accumulated in the depression of the lake, surrounded by rocks, killing all life on the shores of Kahynaydaakh.
The Black Bamboo Valley in Sichuan Province, China, is notorious. In the summer of 1950, about a hundred people disappeared without a trace there and a passenger plane crashed for unknown reasons. In 1962, the area gathered another crop of victims. A surviving guide who accompanied a group of geologists told about the accident: “As soon as the advance party entered the gorge, a thick fog enveloped it. Distinct sounds were heard, and when the veil cleared, there was nobody on the spot”.
Scientists encountered a similar phenomenon in the Changbaishan Mountains of Jilin Province. It happened that even the most experienced ginseng gatherers did not return. In this area, the compass needle literally goes crazy, and people fall into a strange state, losing their memory and ability to navigate in space. Researchers believe that the reason is the saturated fumes of rotting plants, which causes people to suffocate, lose orientation and eventually die in the deep crevices, which abound in these places. But other scientists argue that the real cause of the tragic accidents is an unusually strong magnetic field.
Equally famous is California Death Valley (U.S. National Wildlife Refuge, California), a small desert fringed by mountains. California Death Valley is rightly considered the hottest place on Earth: in 1917 the temperature was over 48.9 °C for 43 consecutive days. In addition to mirages and other strange phenomena, the area is known for the amazing behavior of its rocks. Multiton boulders and small boulders spontaneously move with barely perceptible speed, bypassing the obstacles that arise on their way. The most surprising thing is that there are no other traces near the clearly visible trace of stone movements. This was repeatedly confirmed by experienced forensic experts. The stones walk along the bottom of a dried up lake, leaving clear streaks in the sand.
There are several theories trying to explain the phenomenon of wandering rocks in California’s Death Valley. Some scientists argue that the huge boulders are driven by rain (as if flowing with the streams carrying the sand down), by the wind, or by tectonic forces. But an attempt by Hampshire College officials to prove the rain version was a complete failure. The soil around one of the boulders was abundantly wet with water. And then piled on it all together. But several dozen people have not managed to move the stone. The scientists made the necessary calculations and found out that even in the wet clay the friction force is so high that the half-tonnish boulder can be blown away only by the wind rushing at a speed of 400 km per hour. But such hurricanes are even theoretically hard to imagine. Besides, it rains very rarely in the California valley. And the wind theory is refuted by the stones themselves, which are able to move against the direction of the prevailing air currents.
The phenomenon of wandering stones was also discovered in Russia. The legendary boulder Blue Stone is located near the village of Gorodishche near Pereslavl-Zalessky.
But while some rocks move on their own, astonishing locals and baffling scientists, others do not tolerate being moved. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the behavior of a boulder from the English county of Essex during World War II. Widening the road, the bulldozer was forced to roll down a huge boulder embedded in the ground, which, according to legends, was home to an evil spirit, which led to a series of inexplicable events: the church belfry locked bells began to ring by themselves, heavy poles and farm implements flew through the air. Frightened out of their wits, the villagers demanded that the authorities return the stone to its original place using ancient magic rituals. Only then did the anomalous phenomena cease.
“Don’t make a dash while it’s quiet” – this proverb can rightfully be applied to the miraculous stones as well. Such a megalith is located in the vicinity of Oxford. A local lord decided to use a rough stone block from ancient sanctuaries as a support for a bridge that was being built on his estate. The chasers had to increase the number of horses that had to haul the stone for construction several times. But as soon as it was put in its new place, everything in the manor was turned upside down: objects flew, houses spontaneously combusted. The lord decided to hurriedly put the stone back. It took one horse, which easily dragged the stone back to where it had been taken.
What are the forces that make rocks move, contrary to the laws of physics? Are not these forces the main cause of the mysterious deaths in the “Devil’s Fields”? The events occurring in the valleys of death do not fall under any classification yet. Researchers have yet to fully explore these phenomena, which are in no hurry to reveal their centuries-old secrets.
This text is an introductory fragment.
Continued on LitRes
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What is the secret of the moving rocks in the Valley of Death, considered the most terrifying place on earth?
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In the United States, a mysterious phenomenon can be observed on a dried-up lake in California. The stones here move by themselves, as if someone moves them by telekinesis. The area itself is called the Valley of Death. Tourists say that it is really scary here, but very beautiful. Scientists are not interested in the local beauty. For many years, they are trying to find an answer to the question: “What makes the stones move?
The rocks have a life of their own
The phenomenon, called Sailing stones, takes place on the clay bottom of the dried-up Lake Restrek-Playa, leaving a trail of streaks. It is surprising that no one has been able to film or even notice the movement of the stones from one place to another.
It is believed that the stones are moved once a year, or even less frequently, and the footprints themselves remain on the surface for several years. The different types of stone (ribbed, sharp, and round) leave different kinds of stripes.
In the old days, there were many theories about who or what moved the stones. There was talk of supernatural forces and of some magnetic fields.
In the middle of the last century, the most common explanation in the scientific world was this: they say that when the bottom of a dry lake becomes wet from the rains, the rocks slide over it, moved by the strong winds. But in 1955, George Stanley, a geologist at the University of Michigan, disproved this version: he proved that the rocks in Death Valley are too weighty to move even in the strongest winds. He attributed the phenomenon itself to the fact that when temperatures drop below freezing after seasonal flooding, an ice crust forms at the bottom of the lake, and the rocks begin to slide on it.
In the 1970s, California scientists conducted a large-scale study. They marked 30 rocks and recorded their locations with pegs to see how they would move. The observations lasted seven years. In the end, the researchers concluded that both past versions were essentially correct. The rocks, indeed, are moved by the wind and they do, indeed, slide. This is because during the rainy season, the wind spreads the water that has accumulated in one part of the lake across the entire surface of the bottom, and the soil becomes wet. The rocks become more malleable to the wind. Scientists have noted that in this way a strong wind has moved even the largest, 350-kilogram stone.
An experiment with an ice crust has shown that it, too, helps move the stones, but only if the ice layer is thin. However, in 1993, researcher Paula Messina proved in her dissertation that the stones do not move strictly parallel, which means that the ice does not affect their movement. Moreover, the size and shape of the boulders do not play a role either. Paula’s conclusions, confirmed experimentally, said that the very location of each stone on the lake bed is important. The winds here blow in a very tricky way, forming eddies that cause the rocks to move in their own trajectory.
But two years later, other researchers spoke again about the ice crust: They found that some of the stones did move with streams of ice-covered water.
In general, the truth is somewhere in the middle. At the same time, the question: “Why do some stones move from place to place, but others, located nearby, do not?” remains unanswered for now.
It is possible to really die here.
The place where the phenomenon of the moving stones was discovered is called the Valley of Death for a reason. The weather conditions here are harsh: in winter piercing winds and pouring rain constantly, and in summer there is a terrible heat, which does not subside even at night. So it’s better not to come here by car without air conditioner, it’s dangerous for life.
By the way, here, in California’s Death Valley, in 1913 the highest temperature on our planet was fixed: +57 ° C.
By the way, American tourists come here in the winter months, when it is not so hot – about 20 degrees. The main thing is not to get caught in the rain.
The scenery of Death Valley is reminiscent of images from a sci-fi movie. It seems that you are on another planet, where almost everything alive is extinct. However, in the hot summer you really don’t see any signs of life (animals and insects are visible only when the heat goes down).
The valley got its grim name in the middle of the 19th century, when gold prospectors came across this wilderness, trying to hasten their way through. People wandered through the desolate valley for weeks trying to make their way to settlements. Some travelers (according to other reports, only one of them) died because they could not withstand the harsh climate. According to legend, when they managed to find the “way out” of this perilous place, one woman, with one last look at the deserted expanse, exclaimed: “Goodbye, Death Valley!”
The first settlements sprang up here at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Death Valley was mostly inhabited by gold miners. They also tried to mine silver, copper, lead, and ores here. However, the harsh climate forced many prospectors to leave the area. Mining in the area turned out to be unpromising.
Now Death Valley National Park is a very popular tourist spot. But there are other non-museums in the U.S. open air in the deserts, attracting tourists. For example, another amazing attraction is also located in California. If you want to know what it is, be sure to read about How the Mountain of Salvation appeared in the desert and what this art object symbolizes .