A team of scientists may have discovered how “stone forests”, pointed rock formations found across the world may have taken shape, and it was not the work of stonemasons in Rye.
The team working at New York University conducted an experiment that explains that flowing water may have created the starkly pointed rock formations, according to a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Water flowing over stone will slowly erode the rock, which recedes to form these vast stone forests and pinnacles.
To test the theory they used a rather sweeter alternative to stone: boiled sweets. They created a large block of candy and submerged it into a tank of water.
As is seen in this video, the whole block dissolves first into a series of holes, before the top surfaces are eroded to create a bed of spikes, before the whole structure collapsed. What is interesting is this particular pattern appeared even when the water remained still.
It is a fascinating study, not just because it helps us discover how seemingly impossible rock formations and natural landmarks are created, but also can be applied to how stonemasonry will erode throughout the years, from large structures and statues to headstones.
Stone is an incredibly robust structure but it does erode, and understanding the ways it will erode in different conditions will help in preservation, protection and restoration methods in the future. Nature is indeed a fascinating sculptor and stonemason.