Ringing Rocks – Nature’s “Rock” Band

Ringing rocks are the rocks which ring when struck by a solid object as though it were a hollow metal. It still remains as one of the unsolved mysteries of the world. It is truly a remarkable phenomenon. These types of ringing rocks are located in a few pockets of the world, the most famous and significant being the “Ringing Rocks Park” or the “Stony Garden” located in Haycocks, Bucks County in South-eastern Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Another well-known site which shows this phenomenon is located in Western Australia in a place known as the “Bell Rock Range”.


Ringing Rocks

Ringing Rocks, Pennsylvania (Image credit: Michael Parker/Wikipedia)

It is certainly not some magic trick or a man-made illusion. So what is it? What is the secret behind these musical rocks? The answer is that there is no absolute proof of why they behave that way. Though it is a natural phenomenon, it has not yet received a fully satisfactory explanation. In this article we will look into the location, the paradoxes surrounding the area, the composition and the history behind this mystery of nature.

Ringing Rocks Park, Pennsylvania

It is a 128 acres park nested in the woods of Black Upper Eddy in Bucks County. It is located within a mile’s radius of the Delaware River near the New Jersey state line. Within this massive park lies an open field of boulders covering an area of seven acres and a depth of ten feet. These boulders are the ones which possess the weird quality of ringing whenever they are struck.


The other odd thing about this boulder field is that boulder fields are formed by collapsing mountain sides which would mean that the boulders would eventually settle down at the bottom of steep mountains or hills. But in this peculiar case, the boulders are found on the top of a hill. How did it get there?



These rocks are made of a material called Olivine Diabase which is basically a volcanic residue. Initially when the earth was formed, there was only one single piece of land called “Pangaea”. When the continents separated out, the stretching of the crust caused the magma from the upper mantle region to rise up and settle on the land. After many years of cooling, sedimentation and splitting up, they formed individual Diabase rocks in a cluster. The soil moisture present below the rocks helped the rocks to move downhill to their current position, a process known as “Solifluction”.


Interesting Fact:  Although the composition of all the rocks in the boulder field is identical, only one-thirds of the rocks actually ring on being struck. The ones that ring are called “live” rocks and the ones that do not are called “dead” rocks.

Attempts to Decode the Musical Rocks

In 1890, Dr. J.J. Ott collected rocks of different pitches and played a few musical tones along with the pleasant valley band in a Historian’s meeting. From this innovative use for the rocks, Dr.Ott collected that the rocks need not be in their natural environment to ring neither do they have to be intact in the field.


Initial Findings

Later in 1965, a geologist named Richard Faas of the Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania collected samples and conducted experiments and measurements using sensitive equipment. He gathered from his results that a single rock produces multiple waves of different frequencies. The sound we hear is the super-imposition of these waves. But he couldn’t find the physical mechanism that created these tones. Many physicists believe that this could be the cause of internal stresses between the crystal structures of the rock.


Supernatural and Extra-terrestrial Angles

When science couldn’t give the answers, people started tilting their heads towards the supernatural. People believed so due to the very low life existence near the boulder field. Flora and Fauna are as good as non-existent near the rocks. In fact, the ten feet thickness of the rocks causes the field to be hotter than the surrounding area therefore making it inhospitable. The other view that scientists examined was that the rocks were actually comets or meteorites that had crashed onto earth containing un-earthly elements.


Few people have claimed that the rocks mess with magnetic compasses. After research into this matter it was found that there weren’t any unusual activities surrounding the Ringing rocks pointing out disturbances in the magnetic fields, radio activity or any electromagnetic flux.


More Findings

Another claim made by the Late Mister Ivan T. Sanderson was that a live rock which was big enough could give out an entire scale i.e., the entire Do, Re, Me, Fa, So, La, Te of music. Not exquisitely notable but this feature varies when different rocks are suspended and impacted. Sometimes the frequencies of the notes are out of the Human audible range (20Hz – 20,000Hz) making it inaudible to the human ear. This may be one of the reason why animals (insects, more specifically), which are sensitive to higher or lower frequencies tend not to live there.

Don’t write them off Just Yet

The ringing rocks are a mystery about which the public is not quite aware about, compared to other famous unexplained mysteries like the “Bermuda Triangle”. It is a simple yet mysteriously beautiful phenomenon which continues to haunt geologists who are keen for answers. We can hope that one day Science will find answer to this earth bound mystery.