A balancing rock, also called balanced rock or precarious boulder, is a naturally occurring geological formation featuring a large rock or boulder, sometimes of substantial size, resting on other rocks, bedrock or on glacial till. Some formations known by this name only appear to be balancing but are in fact firmly connected to a base rock by a pedestal or stem. There is no single scientific definition of the term, and it has been applied to a variety of rock features that fall into one of four general categories:
- A glacial erratic is a boulder that was transported and deposited by glaciers to a resting place on soil, on bedrock or on other boulders. It usually has a different lithology than the other rocks around it. Not all glacial erractics are balancing rocks; some are firmly seated on the ground. Some balancing erractics have come to be known as rocking stones, also known as logan rocks, logan stones or logans, because they are so finely balanced that the application of just a small force may cause them to rock or sway. A good example of a rocking stone is the Logan Rock in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom; another is the Trembling Rock in Brittany, France.
- A perched block, also known as a perched boulder or perched rock, is a large, detached rock fragment that most commonly was transported and deposited by a glacier to a resting place on glacial till, often on the side of a hill or slope. Some perched blocks were not produced by glacial action but were the aftermath of a rock fall, landslide or avalanche.
- An erosional remnant is a persisting rock formation that remains after extensive wind, water and/or chemical erosion. To the untrained eye it may appear to be visually like a glacial erratic, but instead of being transported and deposited it was carved from the local bedrock. Many good examples of erosional remnants are seen in Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve in the Northern Territory of Australia.
- A pedestal rock, also known as a rock pedestal or mushroom rock, is not a true balancing rock but is a single continuous rock form with a very small base leading up to a much larger crown. Some of these formations are called balancing rocks because of their appearance. The undercut base was attributed for many years to simple wind abrasion but is now believed to result from a combination of wind and enhanced chemical weathering at the base where moisture would be retained longest. Some pedestal rocks sitting on taller spire formations are known as hoodoos.
Famous balancing rocks
- The Balancing Rocks are a geological formation found in the township of Epworth, southeast of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. It is a formation of rocks perfectly balanced without other supports.
- The Mother and Child balancing rocks are a well-known feature in Matobo National Park.
Asia and Australia
- Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is a vast field of erosional remnants.
- Kummakivi is a balancing rock located at 61° 29' 36.4596" N, 28° 25' 45.5016" E in Ruokolahti and is protected.
- Chybotek – granite balancing rock in Giant Mountains (Karkonosze)
- Chybotek – granite balancing rock in Jizera Mountains (Góry Izerskie).
- Nova Scotia
- A tall basalt stack appears to balance precariously above the water near Digby, Nova Scotia.
- British Columbia
- Located near Bear Beach on the Juan De Fuca Trail, this solid rock is perched upon eroded sandstone.
- Several pedestals rocks are found within the boundaries of the Chiricahua National Monument.
- A huge sandstone boulder hangs precariously near the roadway in Garden of the Gods park near Colorado Springs.
- In Balance Rock Park, in Pittsfield State Forest, a field of massive boulders left on a hillside by receding glaciers is crowned by Balance Rock, a tremendous rock balancing almost unbelievably upon a smaller rock protruding from the ground.
- North Carolina
- The Devil's Head is a large boulder perched on the ledge of a cliff in the Chimney Rock State Park, North Carolina.
- Balanced Rock (also called Window Rock) is a large boulder suspended between two pedestals in the Grapevine Hills of Big Bend National Park.
- One of the most visited formations in the United States is the Balanced Rock in Arches National Park.
- There is a large glacial erratic at the south end of Omak Lake in Okanogan County, known as the Omak Rock.
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