The rocks that were famed for changing direction suddenly in their movement across the so-called Racetrack Playa kept the scientists perplexed for a long time.
Pale biologist Richard Norris of Scripps Institution of Oceanography has observed the phenomenon last December along with his engineer cousin James Norris, led the study.
The report says that even though the stones can sit for a decade or more without moving, on certain occasions they go on a slow trip that results from an unusual combination of ice and wind in an area normally known for scorching hot temperatures. That happens when the dry lake bed they are in freezes over with a thin layer of ice which then breaks apart in a light wind, sending large sheets of ice against the rocks with enough force to move them a few yards per minute, Norris said.
The report finds, Because of the ability of the large ice sheets to catch the wind, and aided by the underlying flow of water, the rocks, which weigh as much as 700 pounds (318 kg), are pushed along in a way that could not occur from the force of the wind alone.
A scientific theory had suggested that thick ice and heavy winds could be behind the movement of the rocks, but the study published on Thursday found the ice is far thinner and the wind much lighter than first thought. This theory was dated back to the 1950.