Big Balanced Rock in Chiricahua National Monument, southeast Arizona
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 erratics are balancing rocks; some are firmly seated on the ground. Some balancing erratics 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.
Balanced Rock is one of the most popular features of Arches National Park, situated in Utah, United States. It is located next to the park’s main road, at about 9 miles from the park entrance.
The total height of Balanced Rock is about 39 m, with the balancing rock rising 16.75 m above the base. The big rock on top is the size of three school buses. Until recently, Balanced Rock had a companion – a similar, but much smaller balanced rock named “Chip Off The Old Block”, which fell during the winter of 1975/1976.
This balanced rock is located in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is easily accessible by paved road and is a popular spot for tourist photography.
The Balancing Rock in St. Mary’s Bay on Long Island, Nova Scotia seems to defy gravity as it stands on its end at the edge of the rock below. The 9 meter high column of rock is attached by two small sections with a gap between that you can look through.
Many curious rock formations are scattered over 50 acres on Brimham Moor, U.K. One of them is the Idol Rock precariously balanced on top of a smaller rock. The rocks eroded by water, glaciation and wind, have taken amazing shapes. Many of the formations suggest all manner of things, including elephants, hippos, bears, and mushrooms.
The Chiremba Balancing Rocks is located 13 km southeast of Harare in Epworth. Strange balancing rocks are found all over Zimbabwe. The Balancing Rocks have been used as a metaphorical theme to explain the importance of development coupled with preserving the fragile environment of Zimbabwe as similar to that of the Balancing Rocks found in Epworth, Matopos and in other areas.
The Devils Marbles are amongst the most famous Australian rocks, located south of Tennant Creek area of Northern Territory. These huge, red, rounded granite boulders vary in size, from 50 cm up to six metres across, and they are strewn across a large area. Many of them seem impossibly balanced on top of each other.
Kjeragbolten is a massive 5 cubic meter boulder wedged in to a crevasse on the edge of the Kjerag mountain in Lysefjorden, Norway. The block of stone is suspended 984 meters above a deep abyss. Despite its impressive appearance, it is easily accessible on foot without any special equipment. The whole of Kjerag mountain is a popular hiking area, and Kjeragbolten is a favorite photo spot.
The Golden Rock (Kyaik-htiyo or Kyaiktiyo), perched atop a cliff near Yangon, is one of the most sacred sites in Burma. According to legend, the Golden Rock itself is precariously perched on a strand of the Buddha’s hair. The rock seems to defy gravity, as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the hill. At the top of the rock is built a small pagoda and covered with gold leaves pasted on by devotees. A glimpse of the “gravity defying” Golden Rock is believed to be enough of an inspiration for any person to turn to Buddhism.
Krishna’s Butterball is a curious tourist attraction in Mahabalipuram, a town about 60 km south of Chennai famous for its stone carvings. The “butterball” is a giant balancing rock, 5 meters in diameter, perched on a smooth slope, seemingly defying all laws of physics.
In Hindu mythology Lord Krishna had an insatiable appetite for butter, and as a child, would often sneak a handful from his mother’s butter jar. Situated on a hill slope near the Ganesh Ratha this massive natural rock boulder is attributed to a bolus of butter the young Krishna would steal.
An earthquake hits and those goats are pancakes.