Climate Change Enables Storms to "Push 600-Ton Boulders Around"… Reality Check

Guest eye-rolling by David Middleton

The featured image is a USGS picture of a boulder from a debris flow in Venezuela.  I chose not to use the photos from the Earther article to avoid any copyright issues.

From the alarmists who brought you, “Climate Change Is Causing the Seafloor to Sink“…

Apparently Storms Can Push 600-Ton Boulders Around

Maddie Stone

On the rocky shores of a windswept island just west of Ireland, the 620-ton boulder looks almost at home. But careful analysis of its position over the last few years has revealed something odd: between the summers of 2013 and 2014, the boulder shifted a couple meters toward the sea. That discovery is causing scientists to rethink what they know about the impacts of powerful storms.

In fact, the rock is one of more than a thousand boulders—including a handful of Very Large Boulders (VLBs and yes, that’s a technical term) weighing over 50 metric tons—shuffled around by the powerful storms that pounded Ireland’s west coast during the winter of 2013-2014, the stormiest in decades. Described in a new paper in the journal Earth Science Reviews, these boulders offer some of the first concrete evidence that storm waves, not just tsunami waves, can pack enough punch to hurl giant chunks of Earth around. (For comparison, 100 metric tons is about half the weight of a Boeing 747.)

In a warming world where more energy in the oceans and atmosphere could mean more powerful storms, that’s an important insight.

“Ten years ago, it was possible to say storms can’t move 50 ton boulders,” lead study author Rónadh Cox, a professor of geosciences at Williams College, told Earther. “If you were building a model of storm intensity or thinking about risks posed by severe storms, then your upper level for storm energy were to some extent informed by that understanding.”



“Ten years ago, it was possible to say storms can’t move 50 ton boulders”…  This is where I rolled my eyes.


But, 20 years ago, it was possible to say that storms did move VLB’s around (Ms. Stone is correct about VLB’s being a genuine technical term)…

QUATERNARY RESEARCH 48, 326–338 (1997)


Boulder Deposits from Large Waves during the Last Interglaciation on North Eleuthera Island, Bahamas

Paul J. Hearty


Link to paper

The greatest weight (from an estimated denasity of 2.4 g/cm3) is about 2,300 tons for Boulder 1.

OK… The largest Eemian Bahama Boulder was 2,300 tons.  It was ten times the size of Holocene boulders moved by waves.  That would be 230 tons.  Yet, 10 years ago, storms couldn’t move 50 ton boulders.

For that matter, the Irish boulders which couldn’t be moved by storms 10 years ago, were very likely deposited by storms…


Boulder deposition by tsunamis and storms


A study explores the origin of boulders deposited on cliffs in western Ireland and New Zealand’s North Island. The question of whether tsunamis or storm waves are responsible for the presence of boulders on ocean cliffs remains unsettled. John Dewey and Paul Ryan compared two deposits of boulders weighing more than 30 tonnes on the coastline of Annagh Head, western Ireland and on the Matheson Formation, a Miocene deposit in New Zealand. Oceanographic data, field measurements, and historic storm accounts indicated that Annagh Head deposits, which weigh more than 50 tonnes, are subject to 20-30-meter-high storm waves. Field measurements of the Matheson Formation indicated that a 12-13-meter tsunami with a period of approximately 1 hour could have deposited the boulders, some of which weigh more than 140 tonnes. Further, compared with the Annagh Head deposits, the Matheson Formation deposits are spread over a large geographic region and include a large proportion of ocean floor sediments–both of which are indicative of a tsunami. A numerical model of storm waves indicated that boulder size, shape, and density determine the site at which waves deposit boulders. According to the authors, the Matheson Formation likely represents the deposition of a single tsunami over 1 hour, whereas the Annagh Head deposits likely represent the result of centuries of storms.

Article #17-13233: “Storm, rogue wave, or tsunami origin for megaclast deposits in western Ireland and North Island, New Zealand?,” by John F. Dewey and Paul D. Ryan.

Eureka Alert

Any questions?


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Mark from the Midwest
January 25, 2018 11:32 am

“On a ridge” … “some situated on limestone” … oh my, it must be the wind with such a stable base ….

Bryan A
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
January 25, 2018 12:35 pm

Looking at the accompanying image, a vary reasonable possibility is that the wave action eroded some of the smaller rocks supporting the stone allowing it to slide towards the water line

Reply to  Bryan A
January 25, 2018 12:52 pm

As the article states, the picture is not from the paper in question.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Bryan A
January 25, 2018 1:47 pm

I’ll have to try this line…. “Officer, the wind from global warming must have shifted my car toward the bottom of the hill: only a DENIALIST would blame the parking-brake!”

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
January 25, 2018 1:07 pm

EROSION – it works, has been for…. well since ever.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  rocketscientist
January 25, 2018 1:39 pm

Along with the fact that water is lower than land, and the article expressly says that the boulders shifted towards it. To wit:
But careful analysis of its position over the last few years has revealed something odd: between the summers of 2013 and 2014, the boulder shifted a couple meters toward the sea.
And how fardown? The article doesn’t mention that part.
What rolls down hills,
in warming or chills?
Everyone knows, a boulder!

Reply to  rocketscientist
January 25, 2018 6:14 pm

comment image
•is 348 metres (1141 feet) high
•rises 863 metres (2,831 ft) above sea level
•is 3.6 km long (2.2 miles)
•is 1.9 km wide (1.2 miles)
•is 9.4 km or 5.8 miles around the base
•covers 3.33 km2 (1.29 miles2)
•extends about several km/miles into the ground (no-one knows exactly how far)

Reply to  rocketscientist
January 25, 2018 6:15 pm

comment image

Interested Observer
Reply to  rocketscientist
January 25, 2018 6:52 pm

That’s not a boulder. THIS is a boulder! (See picture above)

Reply to  rocketscientist
January 26, 2018 4:00 am

“extends about several km/miles into the ground (no-one knows exactly how far)”
I do, just about about 3,960 miles.

Donald Thompson
January 25, 2018 11:33 am

Apparently, everybody must get stoned.

Reply to  Donald Thompson
January 25, 2018 12:18 pm
Ian McCandless
Reply to  Donald Thompson
January 25, 2018 1:49 pm

You’d HAVE to be stoned to think that “the wind BLEW the rock downhill.” Usually they just do that by themselves.

Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 7:11 pm

Nah, that’s that gravity stuff, mate!

January 25, 2018 11:38 am

Climate Change can move a VLB, one RCH at a time. Derp.

Reply to  Severian
January 25, 2018 7:51 pm

Back in 1991, a hurricane, Bob, hit the coast of Maine. Afterwards, the Coast Guard was apparently missing a large concrete pier. They assumed it had broken its supports and sank into the sea. However, they located it about a hundred yards inland on the other side of a low hill. Storm waves pack a huge punch and the buoyant force cannot be ignored.

Reply to  Severian
January 26, 2018 8:07 am

Is a VLB similar in size and texture to a BFR (big f*****g rock)? There are a lot of BFR’s on whitewater rivers. Not sure if they moved to their location or if everything else just left, or both. Like ‘climate’, everything should always stay the same. Prime flow rates should always stay the same, otherwise the BFR could become a BFH (big f*****g hole).

Andre Lauzon
January 25, 2018 11:39 am

How did they get where they were in the first place???

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 12:35 pm

Glacial Deposits

Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 1:27 pm

My cat Punkin Squawkypants was looking for mice. She can move mountains to find a mouse.

Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 6:52 pm

Were you being funny or sarcastic? Glaciers never reached Venezuela that I know of, too close to the equator.

Reply to  OweninGA
January 25, 2018 6:55 pm

Venezuela goes a ways inland, back towards the headwaters and lower hills. Depends on the altitude, the distance that specific area was from the (potential) glaciers coming down from the Andes. But it also is many thousands of kilometers closer to the equator.

Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 7:05 pm

Wow, did I just read the wrong paper…Ireland not Venezuela…bur would an island off the coast have been in the glacier path. Storms and tsunamis have always been able to move large rocks.

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 8:07 pm

Not sure where Venezuela comes in, the article in Earther is talking about islands off the west coast of Ireland

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 8:12 pm

Here is the extent of the ice sheet during the last great glaciationcomment image

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 8:14 pm

See if this one works bettercomment image

Reply to  Andre Lauzon
January 25, 2018 1:06 pm

Natural causes.
One must also realize that they started out as bigger rocks.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Andre Lauzon
January 25, 2018 1:51 pm

Andre Lauzon “How did they get where they were in the first place???”
What are you, some DENIALIST, with your “null hypothesis” that anything existed before that?

James Bull
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 26, 2018 1:01 am

As a child playing at the seaside or in rocky streams I found it was possible to move fairly large stones by directing a water flow in just the right area at the leading edge of the stone and this could be enough to lift it to move. Don’t ask me the hows and whys but it did work.
James Bull

Ian H
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 26, 2018 2:48 pm

You don’t have to lift a boulder to move it across a surface. A massive boulder can be rocked back and forth using a tiny fraction of the force required to lift it, and if the base is irregular this kind of rocking motion is enough to make it walk. That is conjectured to be how the Easter Island statues were moved. Waves supply exactly the kind of intermittent force needed to make a boulder walk.

Reply to  Andre Lauzon
January 25, 2018 4:16 pm

Close to 10,000 years ago there were these pranksters……(sarc)

Extreme Hiatus
January 25, 2018 11:40 am

“Apparently Storms Can Push 600-Ton Boulders Around”… by “Maddie Stone.”
This has to be a joke, right? Maddie Stone writing about boulders?
“Ten years ago, it was possible to say storms can’t move 50 ton boulders”
Sure. It was possible to say that. It was possible to say just about anything as is shown by some of the ridiculous things that were said then, or now.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Extreme Hiatus
January 25, 2018 11:51 am

There are some interesting sociological studies that have found an unusual correspondence between people’s names and professions. There’s even a term for it, something like “nomen… determinism.” I like it. it demonstrates that there’s an unknown whimsical force at work in the world.

Reply to  Roger Knights
January 25, 2018 12:14 pm
Extreme Hiatus
Reply to  Roger Knights
January 25, 2018 1:34 pm

Maybe this Dr. Cox (as well as Jonathan Overpeck) were destined for Chickenology or something more suitable, but went astray.

Reply to  Roger Knights
January 25, 2018 3:22 pm

The last name of Smith. I always figured that, somewhere up the family tree, there was a black/silver smith.

Reply to  Roger Knights
January 25, 2018 4:43 pm

Spoon Smith – Messer Schmidt [German][ – IF I have remembered the spellings and that.
Yes, Surnames [Family Names] did sometimes take the profession – Cooper; Hunt – or Hunter; Carpenter; Mason..
There are – IFRC – some seven types;
Others include
Location – Scott, London, Haythornthwaite, York(e);
Descriptors – Long; Short; Black;
Local points – Hayfield, Byhill Underhill; Greenfield;
Significant roles in community – [Plays – like King; Knight, even Foule]; Councillor;
And two more I cannot remember – sorry.

Reply to  Roger Knights
January 25, 2018 7:04 pm

Also Raper or Reaper, derived from grain harvesting.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Extreme Hiatus
January 25, 2018 1:58 pm

Extreme Hiatus: “Ten years ago, it was possible to say storms can’t move 50 ton boulders”
Actually they CAN, by causing floods and landslides.. which is exactly how this 600-ton boulder was moved a few meters toward the sea– and sea level as well:
it SLID.
But I guess those signs saying “WATCH FOR FALLING ROCKS” are didn’t exist before Global Warming winds started blowing them downhill, since clearly gravity wasn’t the culprit.

Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 2:29 pm

Nobody noticed it before, therefore it wasn’t happening before.

Extreme Hiatus
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 3:52 pm

Ian – I think you missed my point. I was quoting the words of a ‘scientist’ from this article. It is possible to say anything, as shown by the CAGW Gang here and elsewhere/everywhere. That doesn’t mean it is true or anywhere near close to true or even worth listening to.
For example, I can say that gravity doesn’t exist. See. I just did.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 26, 2018 4:42 am

Extreme Hiatus- that’s my point, The cagw gang is ALSO saying that gravity doesn’t exist.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 26, 2018 12:39 pm

‘Extreme Hiatus- that’s my point, The cagw gang is ALSO saying that gravity doesn’t exist.’
You beat me to it. I was going to suggest ‘gravity’.
Now if the wind blew a six hundred ton stone UPHILL… well, that would be impressive.

Reply to  Extreme Hiatus
January 25, 2018 10:44 pm

Once again, Everybody Must Get Stoned.

January 25, 2018 11:44 am

Let us not forget the “Mysterious” moving boulders in Death Valley…at least they leave tracks….

Reply to  pameladragon
January 25, 2018 12:03 pm

beat me to it

Reply to  pameladragon
January 25, 2018 12:08 pm

They rocks are moved by ice rafts. The rafts act like huge horizontal sails, developing enough wind friction to be moved along, and dragging any embedded rocks with them. Which is why the rock-tracks are usually parallel.

Reply to  ralfellis
January 25, 2018 12:34 pm

The clay minerals help.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  pameladragon
January 26, 2018 4:46 am

Yes, and even up hill.

Reply to  pameladragon
January 27, 2018 7:01 am

I believe I read about something similar occurring somewhere in South America. The rocks were at the end of a long trail in the sand.

January 25, 2018 11:48 am

It takes a special kind of brain damage to even come up with this stuff….
and there’s too many of them out there with it!
makes you not want to leave the house!

Extreme Hiatus
Reply to  Latitude
January 25, 2018 4:15 pm

“makes you not want to leave the house!”
No kidding. Wouldn’t want to get hit by one of these boulders in a storm.

Solomon Green
January 25, 2018 11:56 am

Anyone who has walked in a wadi will know that flash floods following storms can move boulders far heavier than 600 tons. About twenty years ago one flash flood caused a boulder the size of several double decker buses to dam a ravine in the Great Maktesh. Three years later another flash flood moved the rock about two hundred meters and cleared the lake that had formed.

Reply to  Solomon Green
January 25, 2018 1:31 pm

Anyone who has seen the videos of floodwaters carrying boulders in Iceland after Eyefjalljokul erupted knows that water can move ANYTHING it wants to, including your entire house, contents and all, fully-loaded semitruck trailers, and freight trains.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Sara
January 25, 2018 7:24 pm

But those were downhill or level-land movements. Lifting big boulders high above sea level is Something Else.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Solomon Green
January 26, 2018 4:47 am

Solomon Green “Anyone who has walked in a wadi will know that flash floods following storms can move boulders far heavier than 600 tons”
Yes, it’s called a mudslide. Gravity does the moving, because they always move downhill.

Solomon Green
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 27, 2018 4:20 am

Actually in the case that I cited the first sift was downhill on dry stony river bed. The second, however, although obviously gravity inspired, was due to the sheer volume/weight of water, which had remained after the first flood and been added to by succeeding rains, forcing the boulder cork out of the ravine even though at the point where it had previously come to rest there was a rock ridge some 2 to 4 feet high. In other words the boulder was pushed uphill, albeit a small hill.

January 25, 2018 12:04 pm

Just keep staring at it….and earn tenure and promotion too.

January 25, 2018 12:08 pm

Since the previous interglacial (MIS 5e, Eemian/Sangamonian) was significantly warmer than the present one there has been a great deal of effort expended on trying to find traces of politically useful climate catastrophes (collapsing ice-sheets, sudden sea-level rises etc). Paul Heartys specialty is catastrophic super-hurricanes (note that tsunamis are not a politically correct explanation, since they aren’t climate related, it’s gotta be hurricanes).
These data from Ireland is seriously bad from this point of view since there are no tropical hurricanes at all there, just ordinary North Atlantic storms.
By the way, doesn’t anyone remember what happened to the “Mulberry A” artificial harbor off Omaha beach in the storm 19-22 june 1944. 21 out of 28 concrete caissons weighing from 2,000 to 6,000 tons, filled with sea-water and standing on the seabottom were quite simply washed away.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 12:37 pm

Wikipedia suggests the DD Sherman tanks worked fairly well. On D’Day, only Omaha beach with its much larger waves (6 times what the DDs were designed for) presented major issues.

Reply to  tty
January 25, 2018 12:55 pm

Thank you tty!
I was thinking that same thought. There are pictures of the devastated mulberry shortly after the storm.

Reply to  tty
January 25, 2018 1:10 pm

Even us biologists keep things around like Wiegel’s “Oceanographical Engineering,” published in 1964. Whole chapter on wave forces, uses lots of logarithmic graphs. 1997-20=1977.
Author probably never swam in the surf. Closest thing cited in Bahamas article to an engineering study is a Soil Survey. Where do you keep getting these papers? Actually maybe not that hard to find, impressive until you really read them. Does the paper use the word erosion anywhere? D has a hole in it. Last time I looked coastal engineers preferred denser granite because calcareous rocks move too much among other problems.

January 25, 2018 12:14 pm

CO2 doesn’t only cause warming, it alters gravity. Is that the theory?

Reply to  co2islife
January 25, 2018 12:38 pm

Don’t be silly. CO2 just interferes with gravity, doesn’t alter it.
its all that extra co2 that causes the denser atmosphere and therefore the increased buoyancy on the rock ….
(need to ask the authors how much that 50 ton rock weighs when it is under water; and how much force a wave surge imparts on the face (or back) of the rock; and why that surgeforce would be different now as compared to any other historic/future timeline)

Reply to  co2islife
January 25, 2018 1:34 pm

CO2 may be the one thing responsible for time dilation when waiting for the bus to arrive on a cold, dark winter night.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Sara
January 25, 2018 2:00 pm

Don’t hold your breath.

Bruce Cobb
January 25, 2018 12:18 pm

Oh my. The sea must have been angry that day…

January 25, 2018 12:25 pm

Waiting for Nick or tone to come and defend this idiocy. 🙂

Ian McCandless
Reply to  AndyG55
January 25, 2018 2:03 pm

Even Nick Stokes recognizes the gravity of this situation.

January 25, 2018 12:42 pm

Maddie Stone – boulders.
You guys have been suckered !-)

January 25, 2018 12:45 pm

This person has obviously never heard of the Sailing Stones of Death Valley nor the Living/Growing/Moving/Breeding rocks of Romania. Boulders and rocks do some pretty funky stuff but this observational study is the least funky of them all.
“Ten years ago, it was possible to say storms can’t move 50 ton boulders”
Uh oh he may be on to something:
Some of these boulders traveled nearly a mile so we better act NOW before we all get crushed by boulders!

Robert in Busan
Reply to  Dog
January 28, 2018 2:47 am

Forget the boulders. It’s those rouge asteroids that plan their attacks to occur during government shutdowns we must worry about.

January 25, 2018 1:01 pm

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away and move rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”
― Lao Tzu

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Edwin
January 25, 2018 2:04 pm

The explains the persistence of this “Soft Science” behind AGW… it doesn’t yield to facts.

January 25, 2018 1:03 pm

My eyes rolled at that very statement.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  wally
January 25, 2018 2:07 pm

Ironically, Neil De-Grass Tyson is an AGW-proponent. I guess it beats obscurity… the real “inconvienient truth” is that it doesn’t pay for academics to tell the truth, and so the ones who support Climate Change are a bunch of pimps and whores.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 2:48 pm

David, that looks more like Robert Mueller.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 2:50 pm

Come to think of it, Peter Strzok looks like Eddie Munster.

January 25, 2018 1:08 pm

One of the defining postulates of the current climate change paradigm is, “If I haven’t seen it before, it has never happened before.”
Is that delusional, or what?

Reg Nelson
Reply to  jclarke341
January 25, 2018 1:29 pm

The delusion is unprecedented.

Reply to  Reg Nelson
January 26, 2018 6:58 am

Reg…your response made me laugh, but, unfortunately, such delusion is all too common throughout human history.

Jeff L
January 25, 2018 1:09 pm

Climate “scientists “ ignore geology at their own peril. Sedimentary geology only records all past climate… surely there must be something to be learned there /sarc.
IMHO, the best climatologists are actually sedimentary geologists

January 25, 2018 1:13 pm

I’m sorry.. this is important why? Are we concerned about boulders decimating NYC due to climate change?

Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 1:39 pm

I think that was “frozen” water.. 🙂

Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 1:26 pm

Indeed, my first response was “soil erosion,” while the fact of their moving towards the ocean gives a clear hint that they were shifting downhill. To wit:
“between the summers of 2013 and 2014, the boulder shifted a couple meters toward the sea.
Pardon me, but doesn’t land tend to descend toward the sea-level? I notice that the boulder’s elevation was not mentioned, and I wondered if it might also have dropped a few meters…i.e. basically, it rolled downhill, as per the law of gravity. You know, Newton, the apple-guy who’s not Steve Jobs.
But then, I suppose that 600-ton boulders are nothing for the wings of a Climate-Change theorist’s imagination, where the laws of physics do not apply…and the big winds of their endless talk can move mountains– or build them in the path of human progress with endless fearmongering. They certainly have done much of that.

Extreme Hiatus
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 1:32 pm

At least they didn’t try to explain that as evidence of accelerating sea level rise.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Extreme Hiatus
January 25, 2018 2:54 pm

Only because they didn’t think of it.

Reply to  Extreme Hiatus
January 25, 2018 3:27 pm

That is the next paper.

Susan Kay
January 25, 2018 1:31 pm

What role do actual ice age(s) with massive glacial movement – growth & melt – have on these theories?
What is their (glacial-weight, mass, ice, melt) effects on these huge stone movement(s), their displacement, the deposit of stone, & their original placement vs. later placement?
How does that alter or disprove each of the 2 theories presented here?
Water, water everywhere : If water movement can carve out the Grand Canyon over millenia, why not consider it’s effects – slow & steady, or rapid & ragged, on stone masses?
Like rolling rocks in the Mojave, the ‘friction’ holding those rocks in place is greased by seasonal rains, then the boulders there are easily blown about by the trade winds (and even leave a trail!). Exciting, almost magical stuff!
— We’re all just hanging out between ice ages, awaiting the next big chill.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Susan Kay
January 25, 2018 3:00 pm

It’s not water that moves it, it’s _gravity._ Water just goes alone for the ride.
The article expressly says “the boulder shifted several meters toward the sea–” i.e. toward sea-level, which is thus downhill.
Only friction holds it in place; and when erosion and/or rainfall etc. sufficiently creates a net-force to overcome the friction-coefficient, symbolized as “u,” then voila– it falls, whether by sliding, rolling or both.
Saying “the climate-change caused wind to to it,” is a new low in stupidity even for them.

January 25, 2018 1:31 pm

Note that Ms Stone started with a theory, wove the circumstances into the theory, will wait for boulders to follow the theory and most likely will ignore everything that does not fit her world view. She is very invested in her world view—she IS going to see a boulder move. She does at least do field work, but it’s quite obvious that field work can be just as filled with confirmation bias as a model. Ms. Stone seesh what she wants to see.

Reply to  Sheri
January 25, 2018 1:39 pm

Will it help her if we hire David Copperfield to support her need to see a boulder move?

Reply to  Sara
January 25, 2018 1:42 pm

I know the perfect spot in northern Portugal. There is a boulder the size of stretch limo that can be rocked back and forth with very little effort….

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Sara
January 26, 2018 4:55 am

Sara: what could it be a boulder move than hiring David Copperfield?

January 25, 2018 1:39 pm

Megafloods also moved boulders
The ice age outburst megafloods also swept along “particles” of up to 10 m (30 ft) or larger in diameter. e.g., See Walters Butte boulders, Helverson Bonneville boulder, and “Lake Bonneville Flood boulders”
Lake Bonneflood Flood – Melon Gravels

The Melon Gravels deposited by the flood average three feet in diameter, but some well-rounded boulders range up to 10 feet in diameter. These boulders are composed almost entirely of basalt broken from nearby basalt flows. Only several miles of transportation by the flood was sufficient to round the boulders after which they were dumped in unsorted deposits up to 300 feet thick. Melon gravel bars are as much as one mile wide by 1.5 miles long.

See ice age outburst megafloods
Lake Bonneville, USA
Lake Bonneville: A Scientific Update, Charles G. Oviatt, John F. Shroder Eds. 2016 preview At Google Books
Lake Bonneville Flood, Digital Geology of Idaho, Idaho State Univ.
Glacial Lake Bonneville YouTube
Lake Missoula, USA
Ice Age Floods – Study of Alternatives Section D-Background
Cataclysms on the Columbia: The Great Missoula Floods, By John Eliot Allen, Marjorie Burns, Scott Burns 2nd Ed. 2009. Google Books
Glacial Lake Missoula, YouTube
Altai (Altay) Flood, Chuja (Chuya)-Katun River, Siberia
Ice Dammed Lake Outburst Floods in the Altai Mountains, Siberia – A Review with links for further resources, J. Herget, Tomsk State U. J. Biology 2012, 1(17) 148,
English Channel
Two-stage opening of the Dover Strait and the origin of island Britain, S. Gupta et al. Nature 2017,;
A megaflood in the English Channel, Jenny Collier, 2016 Harold Jeffreys Lecture,
Megaflood: How Britain became an island 41:03, Dr. Jenny Collier, Dept of Sci & Engineering, Jul 11, 2012 Imperial College London
Prehistoric English Super Flood, YouTube,
PS Anti-catastrophic world views continue to censor and erase such interesting material from geological textbooks.

January 25, 2018 1:48 pm

My understating is that on Easter Island the big rock statues are reported to have walked to their current site.
That is not to say that I believe it.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Gerontius
January 25, 2018 3:02 pm

But what buried them up to their necks like that?

Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 4:24 pm

Looks like soil to me

Reply to  Gerontius
January 25, 2018 3:11 pm

Are YOU a denier…. 97% of the science is settled (:-))

January 25, 2018 1:51 pm

I would note that there are large boulders to be found all over Wyoming in the mountains. My hubby and I always said the BLM set the boulders on edge for the benefit of tourists. Using Ms. Stone’s logic, I’m considering staking out the boulders and waiting for that BLM crane to show up. I’m sure at least one will be moved and I’m going to catch it being moved. It’s a perfectly good theory……I feel justified in checking it out. Thank you, Ms. Stone.
(/sarc—I know the theory is glaciers, but the BLM seemed a niftier theory and one I could actually “prove”.)

January 25, 2018 1:53 pm

Nah it’s those Canadians not being very neighbourly and smashing into you all the time. They need to learn to control their rocks-

Reply to  observa
January 26, 2018 3:28 am

That is pretty remarkable. A piece of continent four times older than the Earth. Does it consist of kryptonite I wonder?

Joe Shaw
Reply to  observa
January 26, 2018 4:49 am

Did you read even the first paragraph of the article before snarking? 17 in the url is actually 1.7 in the text.

January 25, 2018 1:53 pm

Does this mean that Stonehenge is under threat, too? I know it’s on land now, but with sea level rising and really, really big storms …

January 25, 2018 2:00 pm

The combination of storms and ice can move huge amounts of material. About 30 years ago an unusual, steady east wind at ice break time up on Fort Peck Reservoir moved the ice that had been pushed to the east shore by the normal winds. The ice was several feet thick and must have covered at least 100 acres. It had enough momentum to break off large pieces of the sandstone shelf along the west shore bluff that stood about 30 feet above the water. We found blocks of ice and rock on top of the bluff piled another 15 feet high. Some of the rocks were over 30 feet long and 3 ft. thick

Ian McCandless
Reply to  DMA
January 25, 2018 5:03 pm

Yeah, but doesn’t ice, like…. float in water, and smash into the shore propelled by wind and current, and then melts leaving only the rock when the water recedes? I’m pretty sure the 60-ton boulder didn’t do that uphill from the ocean.

Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 26, 2018 4:11 am

Don’t be too sure. Arctic coastal ice-push ridges can be pretty impressive. Ten feet thick ice in motion ice can do some remarkable things:

Ian McCandless
Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 26, 2018 4:58 am

tty- in ONE YEAR?

January 25, 2018 2:03 pm

Exxon has vast reach.

January 25, 2018 2:40 pm

“Described in a new paper in the journal Earth Science Reviews, these boulders offer some of the first concrete evidence that storm waves,”

Once again, snowflakes or their equivalents (the horror!), imagine everything known starts when they initiate their study.
A) The researchers utterly fail to calculate what force water can achieve; velocity, mass, per surface area of the rocks.
B) The researchers ignore that water is not air. Submerged rocks are easier to move than rocks completely out of water. I’ve flipped over underwater rocks that would make me a modern Hercules if they were above water and dry. (We were catching hellgrammites for fishing)
C) The researchers fail to look up common massive rock moving events; e.g. flash floods

D) The researchers forget that mankind has a long experience attempting to moderate water’s influence through the use of monster rocks; e.g. jetty construction, dams, dikes, etc.
Storms have damaged many jetties and even destroyed quite a few.
E) As tty mentions, the Allies in WWII experienced the power of Atlantic storms when a mulberry (artificial harbor) was seriously damaged about by wave action, much as tinker toys would.

Reply to  ATheoK
January 25, 2018 5:35 pm

You missed “lift.” Consider a fast current flowing over and around a curved rock. Water is a lot denser than air. Look at how small an aircraft wing is to generate lift in air. Ok, now move to water. It’s denser than air. It can generate a lot of lift.
Look at hydrofoils—wings in water.
Lift. That’s what moves boulders in streams. Forget buoyancy. Rocks don’t have any.

Reply to  sophocles
January 26, 2018 3:35 am

“Forget buoyancy. Rocks don’t have any.”
Oh yes. They have. A rock of one cubic meter has a buoyancy of one ton. So it is considerably easier to move underwater though its net buoyancy is still negative (unless it is volcanic pumice, which has a density lower than water:comment image?cb=1422602349

Gordon Dressler
Reply to  sophocles
January 26, 2018 9:41 am

What tty posted, plus the fact that very muddy water (such as in a flash flood, even moving along a nearly horizontal surface) has a specific gravity above 1.0. I could not find an on-line source for the maximum or even typical specific gravity of very muddy water, but I suspect it would be in the range of 1.5-2.0. The buoyancy force for a given rock volume will be proportion to the specific gravity of the fluid it is immersed in.

Bob Burban
January 25, 2018 2:59 pm

There are glacial erratics in New England (USA) that exceed 600 tons in weight – they were deposited there more than 9,000 years ago. In granite country, tors on top of hills can easily exceed 600 tons and these eventually end up in the drainages below.

Extreme Hiatus
Reply to  David Middleton
January 25, 2018 3:58 pm

At least they do have a real climate change related story.

Reply to  David Middleton
January 26, 2018 3:38 am

50 tons? That is nothing. Now this is what I call a glacial erratic:

Tom in Florida
Reply to  David Middleton
January 26, 2018 12:45 pm

David, I grew up in Hamden, where were you?

Extreme Hiatus
January 25, 2018 4:04 pm

“Guest eye-rolling by David Middleton”
Breaking: CAGW causing extreme eye rolling!
Twenty years ago, it was possible to say ‘science’ news can’t make so many eyes roll.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Extreme Hiatus
January 25, 2018 4:10 pm

I think it’s causing extreme grave-turning as well.

Michael S. Kelly
January 25, 2018 4:13 pm

Article #17-13233: “Storm, rogue wave, or tsunami origin for megaclast deposits in western Ireland and North Island, New Zealand?,” by John F. Dewey and Paul D. Ryan.
I didn’t know Paul Ryan had a PhD. What’s he doing studying boulders, when he’s Speaker of the House. And isn’t John Dewey the guy who invented the decimal point?

January 25, 2018 4:27 pm

If a storm occurs where a poorly calibrated material is available to be mobilized, particularly if there is a large amount of more clay or silty material, any large block can be mobilized, and can even be a 600 tons easily. This is not because of climate change of cours. It happened in the past, it happens today and certainly will happen in the future, provided that the conditions of the place of drainage and the availability of sedimentary material allow it. This is related to the fact that the booster fluid ceases to be water but a mixture of water and sediment, becoming a non-Newtonian fluid. The viscosity of this fluid allows the transport of large particles. Any middle geologist knows this. The example pointed out in a previous commentary, which shows rocks to sustain coastal erosion, is not happy because although the seawaves can be very energetic, capable of mobilizing these blocks and destroying the defense structure, it can not mobilize them too much because the sediments in the breakzone and nearshore do not develop non-Newtonian fluids. In the zone where the waves dominate, the particles are mainly superior to 63 μm (silt and clay are bellow this dimension), in the domain of the sands or larger, and do not provoke this effect. In colder regions where glaciers dominate, the outwash currents from the glaciers, mixed with fine sediment and with a little help from the low temperatures (which help the fluid to become more viscous) large deposits of large particles, sometimes with several kilometers wide, are developed, called outwash plain deposits or Sandur.

Ian McCandless
Reply to  JN
January 25, 2018 5:14 pm

JN If a storm occurs where a poorly calibrated material is available to be mobilized, particularly if there is a large amount of more clay or silty material, any large block can be mobilized, and can even be a 600 tons easily.
It’s not the storm that mobilizes it: it’s gravity; and I haven’t yet met the nut who denies that. The storm just provides the lower friction-coefficient toallow the force of gravity to achieve a net force that allows movement.. sort of like oil on a wheel, since clearly wet sludge is more slippery than dry dirt.

Reply to  Ian McCandless
January 25, 2018 7:08 pm

Ian, you are certainly right! Of course that the main “engine” it’s gravity. But it’s gravity and the mobilization of particles in a non-Newtonian fluid. Cheers

Reply to  JN
January 26, 2018 3:47 am

“large deposits of large particles, sometimes with several kilometers wide, are developed, called outwash plain deposits or Sandur.”
Sandurs are typically fine-grained sandy to silty deposits (I have several from the Younger Dryas near where I live). You may have been misled by the most famous Icelandic sandur Skeidhararsandur which is atypical since it is formed by Jökullhlaups, i e volcanic outburst floods, rather than ordinary periglacial processes like its eastern “neighbor” Breidhamerkursandur.

Reply to  tty
January 26, 2018 11:07 am

Yup tty, I was just thinking in that deposit! Went there in 2016. In most cases, the first part of the outwash deposits can have very large boulders. Those are the ones that ‘m referring too. Not only the ones from the terminal moraine. Of course, mostly of the Sandur deposits, mainly the most distal parts, I’ve saw large braided channels transporting large amounts of boulders. Some of them with impressive size.

Michael Darby
January 25, 2018 4:49 pm

Clearly the coal miners of Queensland – the same miners who killed all the polar bears on the Great Barrier Reef are now responsible for random localised gravity fluctuations in Ireland.

January 25, 2018 5:54 pm

There is no real evidence that there has been a climate without strong storms. My Mother’s house is in a very benign area yet a recent storm there caused huge bolders to travel miles in a matter of hours. The lasd where she lives is all aluvial and some of the bolders imbeded in the ground are huge. The climate change we have been experiencing has been so small that it takes networks of very sophisticated insturments to even detect it and it is very difficult to distinguish climate change from normal weather cycles. There is no real evidence that the climate change we have been experiencing is responsible for anything let alone the movement of bolders.

Reply to  willhaas
January 26, 2018 3:50 am

Theoretically a very warm climate, like e. g. during the Eocene should be less stormy since temperature gradients were much weaker. However there is as far as I know no geological period without tempestites, i. e. storm deposits.

Reply to  tty
January 26, 2018 1:50 pm

Thunderstorms depend on the amount of energy in the air(temperature and water vapor) along with the vertical temperature gradient.

January 25, 2018 7:05 pm

“Any questions?”
Yes. How do I get a whole lot of money for garbage like that, too?

January 25, 2018 7:17 pm

“Rocks don’t have buoyancy.” Wrong. Their weight is offset by the weight of the water their submerged volume displaces.

January 25, 2018 7:29 pm

Found out what caused it!

January 25, 2018 7:35 pm

If that boulder is on sand, I can move it downhill (i.e. “toward the sea”). Just takes a shovel and a moderate amount of time digging out the sand in front of it. And a tolerance of getting crushed if it rolls too far.

January 25, 2018 8:21 pm

The kind of storms that moves these boulders is powered mostly by horizontal temperature gradient. When global temperature changes, the Arc temperature changes more than the temperature of the rest of the world. So global warming actually weakens this kind of storm. Note that these storms are most powerful during cold weather season, not summer.

January 26, 2018 12:39 am

The story about the Cow and the Bull and the other boulders from Eleuthera in Bahamas is spread around the world, to show the destructiveness and forces of superstorms. It`s an exiting story about what happened in superstorms 118000 years ago, when the wind and waves lifted boulders of up to 2300 tons ashore. The New Theory of Boulder Elevation came from a geologist Paul J. Hearty, and illustrate what we can expect if we don`t agree on a radical reduction of CO2 emission. This was really food for the climate scientist-activist James Hansen. “Hearty, an expert on Bahamas geology, first published in 1997 the idea that Cow and Bull and were hurled to their perch by the sea. Since then, Hansen has given the work much added attention by framing the boulders as Exhibit A for his dire view of climate change — which has drawn doubters in the scientific community.” ”That period was one where, in Hansen’s interpretation, “all hell breaks loose”: a collapse of polar ice, quickly rising seas, a shutdown of heat-transporting ocean circulation, and then superstorms spawned by a greater temperature contrast between warm tropics and cold poles.” Cited from:
What do we know about storms blowing rocks ashore?. We know it can happen. And we know about some instances. For the block at Bondi Beach the original source gives a weight of about 235 t. “Wave-transported during storm in 1912 (Süssmilch, 2012); often cited as an example for largest coastal boulder dimensions observed to have been moved during a storm (Felton and Crook, 2003; Switzer and Burston, 2010; Terry et al., 2013.)” From: Block and boulder transport in Eastern Samar (Philippines) during Supertyphoon Haiyan . S. M. May et al. Quite some difference between heaviest known boulder moved (235 tons) and the superstorm possible move (2300 tons). Ten times stronger waves than anytime during the last 105 years? And should the temperature contrast between warm tropics and cold poles be greater during a globally warm period than during some ice age?
“Hearty and another leading Bahamas geology expert, Pascal Kindler of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, agree that the boulders are older than the surface upon which they rest and, thus, probably were moved by the sea.” Kindler`s theory was that only a tsunami could move that big rocks. In 1996 Hearty wrote that it was possible that the boulders could have been moved by a tsunami. “The waves that transported the boulders may have been initiated by tsunamis, local slumping of the bank margin, or massive storms. The unidirectional flow generated by a tsunami is capable of transporting very large blocks, but if massive storms were responsible, they must have been much larger than those occurring during the Holocene. These findings may have important implications related to global warming during the present interglaciation.” This was forgotten a couple of years later, when it was only superstorms that counted. “ Chevron Ridges and Runup Deposits in the Bahamas from Storms Late in Oxygen-Isotope Substage 5e “. He then had two other geologists with him on The New Theory of Boulder Elevation, A. C. Neumann and D. S. Kaufman.
So, how was The New Theory of Boulder Elevation received among geologists? In 2002 there was presented a paper at The 114th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America. It was from the most profiled geologists of Bahamas. Boardman, Mark R., Carew, James L., Mylroie, John E., Panuska, Bruce C., Sealy, Neil E., and Voegeli, Vincent J.: Holocene deposition in Northwest Providence Channel, Bahamas : a geochemical approach. The conclusion was that Hearty and others hadn`t got the age right, and that the boulders was younger than the ground underneath. They had never been moved. “We regard the “boulders” to be residual karst towers, which explains the presence of the caves.”
Of couse Hearty and Hansen held on to The New Theory of Boulder Elevation. So, finally in 2016, when the Paris conference should be arranged, they gathered the climate scientist community around the paper: “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 ◦C global warming could be dangerous”. James Hansen1 , Makiko Sato1 , Paul Hearty2 , Reto Ruedy3,4 , Maxwell Kelley3,4 , Valerie Masson-Delmotte5 , Gary Russell4 , George Tselioudis4 , Junji Cao6 , Eric Rignot7,8 , Isabella Velicogna7,8 , Blair Tormey9 , Bailey Donovan10 , Evgeniya Kandiano11, Karina von Schuckmann12, Pushker Kharecha1,4 , Allegra N. Legrande4 , Michael Bauer4,13 , and Kwok-Wai Lo3,4 . But now with no other geologist than Hearty. But when he had to defend his new theory against his old co-worker Kindler, he came up with some new “geologists”. “Reply to Engel, Kindler, and Godefroid’s comment …” Paul J. Hearty , Blair Tormey, Bailey Donovan , and George Tselioudis. (geologist, master degree geology, geology student and adjunct professor physics) “There is near consensus that the megaboulders on Eleuthera were transported by giant waves around the end of the late last interglacial (end-Eemian; late MIS 5e), and we welcome validation of this conclusion by our colleagues.”

Reply to  nobodysknowledge
January 26, 2018 5:11 am

David Middleton. Perhaps you should investigate the case a little better before you spread the fairytales of Hearty and Hansen.

Reply to  nobodysknowledge
January 26, 2018 5:47 am

““Ten years ago, it was possible to say storms can’t move 50 ton boulders,” lead study author Rónadh Cox, a professor of geosciences at Williams College, told Earther.”
Cox should know that this is not true. Süssmilch gave out his observations in 1912. And was referred to later, as by Felton and Crook, 2003.
Note on Some Recent Marine Erosion at Bondi. Volum 46 av Jour. and Proc, Roy. soc. of New South Wales
Carl Adolph Süssmilch, 1912.

Reply to  nobodysknowledge
January 26, 2018 9:18 am

I have been following Hearty’s publications for a long time and the description above is essentially correct.

Robert THomson
January 26, 2018 1:00 am

Great to know that this phenomena pre-dates the start of “man made climate change” ………
“The most sublime scene is where a mural pile of porphyry, escaping the process of disintegration that is devastating the coast, appears to have been left as a sort of rampart against the inroads of the ocean. The Atlantic, when provoked by wintry gales, batters against it with all the force of real artillery- the waves having, in their repeated assaults, forced for themselves an entrance. This breach, named the Grind of the Navir, is widened every winter by the overwhelming surge, that, finding a passage through it, separates large stones from its sides, and forces them to a distance of 180 feet. In two or three spots the fragments which have been detached are brought together in immense heaps, that appear as an accumulation of cubical masses, the product of some quarry.” Hibbert-Ware (1822)

Patrick MJD
January 26, 2018 3:35 am

1 cubic meter of water weighs 1 metric tonne. Add inertia to that, 1T at say 30kph, then multiply that by several thousand results in enough energy to move mountains.
When water flows in a big way, best get out of its way.

Peta of Newark
January 26, 2018 4:48 am

Aw c’mon guys, where’s yer sense of hmuor? Gallantry even. Self awareness.
Maddie is trying to help.
Maddie sincerely has the very best of intentions and desperately wants The World nice nest for her (future?) babies. I’ll get a slap for saying this but “That’s what girls do”
Have you *seriously* got a problem with that?
Hope not.
Almost the entire reason Maddie comes unstuck is with the education she received.
And who was responsible for that, if not the generation above her.
No chance it was that thing you see in a mirror was it………
(Try not to pass any bucks while pondering that)

Philip Finck
January 26, 2018 5:59 am

I remember a granite slab I mapped back around 1989 in southern Nova Scotia. It was `around’ 150 m long, 10 m high, and around 40 m wide. It was moved as a coherent slab during a minor re-advance of the last ice sheet and deposited on top of glacial outwash (sand and gravel for the non geologists). So at 2.68 mt per cubic metre it works out to be 60,000 mt…..BIG. But that is glaciers, were talking about wave action.
Lets assume that in the paper (which I haven’t read), that the researchers measured the actual position of the boulders, not the position of the boulders relative to the shoreline, e.g as an example the base of a cliff. Cliffs erode, and if that was the case the boulder movement could be, or could be partially movement of the cliff face. I am being mean as I,m sure the researchers aren’t that stupid…… though I have seen many examples of environmental studies folks, or other `experts’ working outside their fields of `expertise` making incredibly stupid claims.
Mapping along cliffs, quantifying coastal erosion, I have seen many boulders move seaward…. it is what boulders do. Waves do not need to move the boulder, they erode sand, gravel, cobbles, other smaller boulders around the base and under the boulder and the boulder moves down slope…gravity as many people mentioned. This is something that a student would learn in first year geology.
Also remember that the force of a breaking wave is much, much, much greater than a non breaking wave in a marine setting. In the marine setting the energy of a non breaking wave simply moves through the water….there is little movement of the actual water. However when a wave breaks, the force in which it hits an object is incredible. Remember the old F = ma. When the wave breaks the m is the mass of the actual water. In a non breaking wave the mass is very little. So things such as high or low tide can have a big effect on say movement of the boulder. Just the right tide height so that the waves break against the boulder, and scour at the base, along with loss of effective weight in water…. and away it goes.
Wish I could be `published’ for discovering that boulders move from the top to the base of a beach. sarc.

January 26, 2018 7:22 am

Climate Change stole my dingo.

Steve Richards
January 26, 2018 8:34 am

The doomsday clock just moved to: two boulders to midnight and it is scary

J Mac
January 26, 2018 10:07 am

The moving stones are Ogri, silicon based life forms from the planet Ogros in the Tau Ceti system.
Dr. Who – The Stones Of Blood episode

January 26, 2018 1:49 pm

If I’m not mistaken, there is still much study going on, to determine why lahars sometimes have such a long run-out.
Different fluid densities ?

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