Storms Move Boulders Weighing 78 Tons


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As LiveScience is reporting, boulders on Ireland's coast have been confounding scientists for years. You see, these boulders, some weighting in excess of 78 tons, have a tendency to get up and walk around.

The rocks on the coastline of Ireland's Aran Islands have been spotted so far inland that scientist thought only a tsunami could have had the power to transfer them. But new research published in the Journal of Geology has found that plain ocean waves and strong sea storms are responsible.

Geoscientist Rohadh Cox, and author of the publication, says the size of some of the rocks are "mindbogglingly stupendous". One particular block they studied weighted an estimated 78 tons, was broken from its original resting place 36 feet above sea level and shoved farther inland.

In the study, Cox and his group of students took a set of maps from 1839 that identified the position of the boulders' ridges. They then compared those with modern maps, which reveled that some of them had moved up to 70 feet in that time frame. The last tsunami to hit Ireland was in 1755, almost a hundred years before the original map was made.

Cox and his team used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of tiny clams living in the cracks of some of the boulders. This showed that they were removed from the ocean as early as 60 years ago.

"There's a tendency to attribute the movement of large objects to tsunami," Cox said. "We're saying hold the phone. Big boulders are getting moved by storm waves."

The image displayed is the actual Aran coastline, taken by Ronadh Cox and published in LiveScience.