It’s hard to tell how many strange rock formations there are in this world. Most of them were created by nature over the course of millions of years. Some were shaped by human hands. Others look so bizarre they have yet to be explained.
This happens because not all geological processes have been completely understood and a natural structure can suffer multiple interactions over long periods of time. Because of these variables, geologists sometimes find it hard to determine how a certain stone formed. Such was the case of a boulder from West Virginia called the Waffle Rock.
The picture above show what is left of the original rock. The rest of it now sits on the bottom of a lake created by the damming of the river Potomac. Sadly, the most interesting parts were left behind. Fortunately, you can still see the boulder on display at the Jennings Randolph Lake in Mineral County, West Virginia.
When you look at it, it’s easy to see how it got its name. An entire side of the rock is covered with a waffle-like geometric pattern made up of triangles and rhombuses. How it got its looks is a whole different story.
For a long time, people believed the Waffle Rock was man-made, carved thousands of years ago. But who would have invested such a large amount of elbow grease and to what purpose? What tools were used to create its intricate design?
The peculiar rock was discovered in the 1930s by Betty Webster Bishop and her mother near the now-defunct town of Shaw, WV. It stood six feet above the ground, half-embedded in the earth. Soon, people from the surrounding area flocked to see what Ms. Webster called the “Indian Rock.”
Local legends told that the rock had been created by a massive dragon leaving a burning imprint of its scaly skin after being slain by a brave warrior. Obviously, that’s not how it happened. Or is it?
Another theory is that the rock actually features a primitive form of hieroglyphic writing, set in stone sometime in the Neolithic. Who knows, maybe it’s a piece of previously undiscovered Neanderthal art. If so, it would contradict most of the established archaeological facts. The explanation must lie elsewhere.
In 1977, Dr. Jack Epstein performed a geological analysis of the rock and surrounding area. He determined the rock had formed during the late Carboniferous or early Permian, as a result of a the collision between the super-continent of Euramerica and the regular continent of Gondwana. The immense tensions caused by this tectonic movement triggered a process called the Appalachian orogeny.
The ground shook as the Appalachian mountains rose. The same tremors caused fractures in deposits of sandstone and the immense pressure caused the iron that accumulated in the cracks to turn to hematite, a mineral that is darker and harder than the sandstone around it. Millions of years later, the combination of sandstone and hematite stumps us.
Some have suggested that electromagnetic fields might have played a part in shaping this strange boulder by arranging the iron particles in the patterns we see today.
It turns out that a powerful concurrence of factors was needed to create such perplexing and geometric characteristics.
However, this explanation has failed to please everyone. Some believe the grid appearance of the rock was created by the radiation from an enormous spaceship. They consider the boulder evidence of ancient alien visits.
I prefer the story with the dragon.