Big Stone River, Russia

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The Big Stone River is a chaotic jumble of huge boulders flowing down the slope of the Taganay mountains in the Southern Urals, on the territory of Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. The river of stone is 6 km long and averages 200 meters in width. Parts of it are 700 meters wide.

The gigantic rock slide is believed to have occurred during the last glaciation some 10,000 years ago. At that time, glaciers covered the top of the ridges of the Taganay mountains reaching heights up to 4,800 meters. Under the immense weight of this ice, the top of the mountain was pulverized into millions of large boulders. When the ice melted away, these rocks slowly slide down the hill creating the Big Stone River. The geological feature is named “river” only because it resembles as such, not because it actually flows. The rock slide has been sitting motionless for thousands of years.


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The river is occupied by large blocks of quartzite (an extremely compact and hard rock consisting of quartz) including aventurine (a form of quartz containing mica or iron compounds that gives it a shimmering or glistening effect), weighing up to 9-10 tons each. The layer of rocks goes down 6 meters deep.

Interestingly, as one approaches the Big Stone River, the crisp sound of running water can be heard. The sound is produced by small streams running under the rocks.

The Big Stone River is not the only stone river on earth though. Similar rivers of stone are found in other regions of the Ural mountains.

Outside of Russia, several stone rivers can be found in the Vitosha Mountain, in Bulgaria. One of the largest extends over 2 km in length is located on the Subalpine plateaus at the Zlatnite Mostove (‘Golden Bridges’) site in the upper course of Vladayska River. Another stone river in Vitoshka Bistritsa River valley is up to 300 m wide, and other stone run formations sprawl even wider on the mountain slopes.


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Stone river in Vitosha Mountain, Bulgaria. Photo credit: vladimir Tsekov/Panoramio


Stone river in Vitosha Mountain, Bulgaria. Photo credit: PlamenB/Panoramio


Stone river in Vitosha Mountain, Bulgaria. Photo credit: Nikolay Rainov/Wikimedia

Sources: / / Wikipedia

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