Image: Jim Gordon
Sailing stone in Racetrack Playa
Death Valley National Park in California is home to a place called The Racetrack Playa. The Racetrack is a dry lake situated 1130m above sea level, and even though it is 4.5km long, the ground is surprisingly flat, with only a 4cm height differential between the north and south ends. The mountains surrounding the Racetrack, comprised primarily of dark dolomite, reach as high as 1731m above the lake bed. When the heavy rains come, water rushes down the mountains and onto the lake bed, forming a shallow endorheic lake. Due to the hot temperatures of the region, the water evaporates, leaving behind a layer of soft mud. When the liquid fully evaporates, the ground cracks and leaves a mosaic pattern behind. While all of this is interesting, the feature that makes this area truly unique is something that has yet to be fully understood by the scientific community.