Mangystau: The Incredible Stone Balls Of Kazakhstan

On June 12, 2016 by Lazer Horse

Mangystau, Kazakhstan Stone Balls 3

The Mangystau region of Kazakhstan, near the borders of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, is a huge, empty place. In total, it covers 165,600 square kilometers — an area larger than England.

The geography of the region varies between tundra, grasslands, epic mountains and dusty, dry barren wilderness. Despite being such a substantial size, due to its rigid wilderness, it only has a population of 373,400, which is less than the population of Edinburgh.

Mangystau doesn’t hit the headlines very often, but intrepid explorers return to the area year on year to stare at their strange collection of stone balls. They also host a massive oil, gas and infrastructure exhibition, but that’s much less interesting.

At first glance, the Mangystau balls look anything but natural. Could they be alien eggs? Yes, quite possibly… although, it’s more likely that the balls were created through a natural geological process known as “concretion.” It’s not as exciting as alien eggs, but it is substantially more plausible.

I first met concretion a few months back when I wrote about the similarly odd stone balls of Champ Island, in Russia. They’re similar to the Mangystau balls, except less cracked and crumbling, perhaps due to the difference in climates (Champ island is nippy with a capital N.I.P.P.Y.).

According to DesertUSA, this is how concretion occurs:

“A concretion is a compact mass of mineral matter, usually spherical or disk-shaped, embedded in a host rock of a different composition. This hard, round mass of sedimentary rock cement is carried into place by ground water. Concretions, the most varied-shaped rocks of the sedimentary world, occur when a considerable amount of cementing material precipitates locally around a nucleus, often organic, such as a leaf, tooth, piece of shell or fossil.”

Check out these impressive Kazakh balls:

Mangystau, Kazakhstan Stone Balls 9 Mangystau, Kazakhstan Stone Balls 8 Mangystau, Kazakhstan Stone Balls 7 Mangystau, Kazakhstan Stone Balls 6 Mangystau, Kazakhstan Stone Balls 5 Mangystau, Kazakhstan Stone Balls 4 Mangystau, Kazakhstan Stone Balls 2 Mangystau, Kazakhstan Stone Balls 1

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