The Ringing Rocks Revisited

A lot of you weren’t here in 2013 when I posted “The Mystery of the Ringing Rocks,” and now seems as good a time as any to revisit. Besides, by now I’ve learned how to post a video to go along with it, so you can hear the rocks ring.

Yes, they ring: when tapped with a hammer, some of the rocks in the boulder field produce a musical tone. But not all of them! Which is hard to understand. And if you put in the time, you could probably find a way to play a tune on the rocks. “Happy Birthday,” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” It’s been done by others.

What makes them ring? After studying them for going on 200 years, nobody knows.

Ringing rocks are found, as far as we know, in only seven places, world-wide: in England, Scotland, Australia, Mexico, Montana, and at two sites in Pennsylvania. Why are they so rare? No one knows. I’ve visited Ringing Rocks Park in Upper Black Eddy, PA, and heard the rocks ring. Back then you were allowed to climb around the boulder field and play with the rocks; I don’t know if you still can.

Just as puzzling as the rarity of this phenomenon, if you break a rock into two or more pieces, the pieces won’t ring anymore. It’s as if something spilled out and was lost. Even more puzzling, if you remove ringing rocks from one of the two boulder fields in Pennsylvania, they won’t ring anymore! Well, they will, sort of–but the sound is too low-frequency to be detected by the human ear. But if you remove a ringing rock from the other field, only a few miles away from the first one, it will still ring.

Something Biblical about it all, isn’t there?

Meanwhile, if you think you’ve got God’s creation all figured out, the ringing rocks should make you reconsider your position. And this is Mr. Nature, signing off for now.

5 comments on “The Ringing Rocks Revisited

  1. It is almost biblical. It sounds like a King Arthur sort of thing, and I mean that in a good way. I would venture to say that there are a lot of questions out there that science can’t even begin to answer, and this may be one of them.

    1. It was such fun, climbing around all those rocks and finding the ones that ring. And I just love it that they have yet to crack the mystery.

  2. How mysterious!

    Luke 19:39-40 39. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. 40.And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

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