This strange sight perplexed visitors since its discovery, and spawned stories of giants having balanced the rock in its position, but geologists have a more realistic explanation: glaciers. This isn’t the first balancing rock to be discovered, and scientists believe that glaciers – capable of carrying such a heavy rock with them – left it behind as they receded to the North over 8,000 years ago. The power of glaciers trumps even giants.
The Kummakivi Balancing Rock is a natural feature found in a scenic forest region of Ruokolahti, a municipality in the region of South Karelia, in the southeastern part of Finland. This feature consists of two boulders, one perched precariously on the top of the other. Although the upper rock looks as though it would roll off at any given moment, this has not happened. Additionally, if a human being were to apply force to the rock, it would not budge even the slightest bit.
The Strange Kummakivi Balancing Rock
The name of this Finnish balancing rock, ‘Kummakivi’, has been translated to mean ‘strange rock’. Two rocks make up this unusual geological formation. The rock on the bottom has the shape of a curved mound. It is lodged in the earth, and has a smooth, convex surface.
Resting on the top of this bedrock is another huge rock measuring about 7 meters long (22.97 ft). The contact point between these two rocks is rather small, and it looks as though the upper rock is performing an impossible balancing act.
Anyone looking at the Kummakivi Balancing Rock for the first time would probably be expecting the upper rock to roll off at any time. Yet the rock is firmly anchored onto the bedrock, and it has yet to be pushed over (or even moved slightly) by any human being.
The ancient inhabitants of this area, who no doubt were perplexed by the sight of this natural wonder, sought to find an explanation as to how this balancing rock came to be in such a baffling position. It is likely that this group of people tried to move the Kummakivi Balancing Rock with their own hands. Realizing, however, that the physical force that they applied to it failed to move the boulder, they speculated that a supernatural force must have moved it to the site.
Apart from providing people with interesting stories, balancing rocks have also been used for more scientific purposes. In the USA, for example, researchers have used balancing rocks as a kind of natural seismoscope. While such rocks do not tell when earthquakes have occurred in the past, they are an indication that the region had not suffered from earthquakes strong enough to topple them.
Information about the amount of force needed to move these rocks can provide details on the magnitude of past earthquakes and the recurrence and intervals of large earthquakes in the area, which would be vital for probabilistic seismic hazard analyses. In other words, balancing rocks may save lives!
To conclude, the Kummakivi Balancing Rock is indeed a natural wonder to behold. While people in ancient times have attributed its formation to mythological giants, a more scientific explanation is available today.