What is Spooky Geology?

Weirdness at the intersection between geological science and beliefs about the earth

Mysterious earth phenomena

Geologic anomalies

Weird ideas about rocks, minerals, and the planet

I’ve been writing about the intersection of geology and strange ideas since 2017 and called it “Spooky Geology”. In 2024, I consolidated SpookyGeology.com with this main website.

Introduction to Spooky Geology

Spooky Geology content

  • The many degrees of freedom of the griffin
    The popular origin of the griffin as inspired by Protoceratops dinosaur fossils is questioned. Can we ever really know for sure if there is a connection?
  • Listen: In Research Of… San Andreas
    Musing on the 1979 episode of In Search Of episode about the San Andreas fault and earthquake movies.
  • Fantasy metals – not all Bolognium
    Exploring fantasy metals in media highlights their ubiquitous role as story elements with qualities such as rarity, strength, and magical powers. Used in education, they exemplify impossible chemistries to contrast with real-world elements. Unobtainium, Adamantium, Vibranium, and Mithril serve as plot devices while Orichalcum, Dilithium, and Red Mercury exist as quasi-real earth materials clouded by extraordinary myths.
  • Uh oh, earthquakes add to these Strange Times
    The earthquakes in New Jersey were unexpected and frightening. The events added to the general nervousness from the population prone to catastrophe thinking.
  • Eclipse Anxiety 2024
    Amidst misinformation surrounding the April 8 solar eclipse, many in the US succumb to unfounded fears. While eclipses are natural, predictable phenomena, rumors of catastrophes, like earthquakes and power outages, persist. Authorities prepare for human, not celestial, issues as crowds gather to view the event. Though there isn't a connection between such natural events and disasters, superstitions and doomsday predictions thrive, exploiting public misunderstanding and religious sentiments.
  • Moodus, spooky geology
    Moodus: The Place of Bad Noises
    Machimoodus is historically well-known as the literal “place of bad noises” based on native legends that were subsequently both promoted and twisted by colonists in New England. Today, the Moodus noises of East Haddam, Connecticut are still a popular tale as people interested in natural anomalies hope to hear them when they visit.
  • cursed rocks
    The Curse of the Souvenir Rock
    Popular lore warns that if you take a rock or object from a sacred land, a curse will fall upon you until you return the object. Find out the origin and purpose of the curse legends. Video presentation.
  • When every flash is an earthquake light, we have lost the plot
    Media outlets label electrical flashes during earthquakes as "earthquake lights".
  • Rapid deep freeze can lead to frost quakes
    Frost quakes can occur when water saturated ground undergoes rapid deep freezing. The energy release causes noise and shaking.
  • Blowholes and a dragon’s nose
    Blowholes are natural features created by air pressure. A popular video said to be a "dragon's nose" is likely a blowhole.
  • Tiny earthquake rattles hundreds of New Yorkers
    A small quake was a big surprise and caused concerns for some city residents and first responders.
  • pele
    Wrath of Pele
    The legend of Pele is relatively well known even outside of Hawaii. Her wrath, tears, hair, curses and legends are explored here.
  • Islands of the Dead are eroding
    Coastal erosion reveals human remains on spooky islands that served as mass graves long ago. The natural disinterment is happening in New York City and in the UK.
  • Media hypes questionable “mysterious” earthquake lights
    The earthquake in Morocco generated exaggerated claims and subsequent news coverage of "earthquake lights" as well as faked videos and conspiracy ideas.
  • Not earthquake lights in India.
    Earthquake lights (pseudoEQLs) video from India
    Social media accounts shared video of "earthquake lights" that appeared near Delhi, India after the Hindu Kush quake on 21-March. But the lights were not what was described in the media. They were, instead, reflection of nearby commercial lights on clouds.
  • Not earthquake lights
    Anomalous claims from Turkey-Syria earthquake 2023
    Many images and videos came out of the affected area in southern and central Turkey and western Syria from the February 6, 2023 series of quakes. Included were MANY inaccuracies, misattributed content, conspiracies, and pseudoscientific claims being shared and promoted by non-experts.
  • Electric rocks
    Viral videos of electric rocks
    January 22, 2023 was the height of a wave of social media posts about what people claimed were "electric rocks" found in the DR of Congo. A video showed a close up of someone touching two rocks together and producing a strong electric spark. The clip was widely shared and accumulated millions of views. But it was not as it appeared.
  • Yummy Rocks
    Fun images showing rock and mineral specimens that resemble yummy food, good enough to eat. Check out this forbidden food smorgasbord!
  • paranormal vortex
    Paranormal Vortex Areas
    It’s a common claim by paranormalists that there are special places on earth where “energy” whirls are responsible for strange phenomena reported at those locations. They are called paranormal or energy “vortex” areas. The crystallization of the “vortex” idea in this context began with a popular proponent of mysterious subjects who identified twelve equidistant areas around the globe with peculiar characteristics. Since then, the idea of a paranormal vortex has evolved.
  • Devils hole
    Devils Hole
    Many sites have been given the creepy name of "Devils Hole". The most famous Hole is in Death Valley, Nevada where a notch in the rock reveals an oasis of ancient groundwater in the otherwise brutally dry desert landscape. The cave opening is unusual, the water level responds to seismic events around the world, the underground passageways are complex and its depth is unknown. The opening in the desert sparked strange thoughts from one of the most disturbed criminal minds of our time, claimed lives, and hosts a rare species.
  • New madrid earthquake
    Spooky events from the New Madrid earthquakes
    A series of giant earthquakes within the continental interior is strange in itself, but other notable phenomena associated with the New Madrid, Missouri quakes of 1811-2 made the events preternaturally awful. In this piece, I explore the scary and weird features that were said to accompany the New Madrid earthquakes.
  • Sodom and Gomorrah, spooky geology
    Sodom and Gomorrah – A geomythological parable
    The Bible contains several stories that people have attempted to connect to geological events such as earthquakes or floods. The Biblical context treats these events as supernatural works of God, which puts them in the realm of “spooky geology”. In this post, I’m exploring two geologically-related aspects of the parable of Sodom & Gomorrah.
  • Killing stone
    Japan’s “killing stone” splits
    The infamous Sessho-seki, a protected boulder in the volcanic area of Mount Nesu in Japan, has split. The break occurred around March 5, 2022. A legend says the stone was the prison of the evil nine-tailed fox demoness Tamamo-no-Mae and that anyone who touched it died. Some people fear that evil has been released into the world. In reality, the stone had been cracked for a while and held by a rope. The rock likely split from natural weathering processes. The area is known for sulfur hot springs and potentially poisonous gases which may have contributed to the “killing stone” myth.
  • cavern
    Booming sounds attributed to karst
    Some residents of Silver Spring Township in southcentral PA began to experience booming noises days after heavy rain deluged the area in September 2021. Township officials consulted geological experts who concluded that the sounds originated underground but were not related to earthquakes. Instead, the karst system was actively moving the water and debris in the subsurface.
  • mystery booms
    Mystery booms and skyquakes
    The world is a noisy place. But some sounds shake you to your foundation. Mystery booms that come out of nowhere and have indiscernible sources scare people and leave them wondering, "What just happened?" Every week, we find a few reports of “mystery booms” in the news. People report a surprising, loud noise that shakes their house and rattles their windows. This is not a new phenomenon. Reports of such sounds can be traced back through news accounts from over a century ago.
  • Boston earthquake
    Peabody’s booming earthquake swarm
    Residents of Peabody have been experiencing booming sounds that rattle their houses and nerves. A public meeting was held to explain to residents that 3 earthquakes were recorded (below magnitude 2) in the area and this swarm of small quakes is causing the disturbance.
  • Gate to hell, spooky geology
    Gates to Hell and Hellmouths
    In the past and even today, some believe that you can get to Hell via a portal or entrance from earth. There are countless tales of trips to the underworld made by mythical persons. There continue to be legends about gates to hell around the world that we might access today. Join me for a tour of Hell mouths.
  • mud volcano
    Fireball “mud volcano” in Caspian Sea
    On July 4, news started circulating about a huge explosion in the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan captured on video. The first information was relayed by the state oil company, SOCAR, to the Russian news agency saying the explosion was real and probably caused by a "mud volcano".
  • Oracle of Delphi, Spooky Geology
    Oracle of Delphi: Snake Death Gas or God’s Breath
    The colorful and dramatic accounts of the Oracle of Delphi in Greece spanning many centuries appear to be strongly related to the geological setting and seismic activity of the locale. The cultural and geologic history is long and complex. Over time, people have speculated on the explanation as being supernatural, psychic, geological, or a hoax. It took a multidisciplinary effort to reach the most probable proposed explanation we have so far, but there are still many details we'll never know.
  • Spooky Geology
    Demon or dino print on the Appalachian Trail
    A weird impression in a rock along the Appalachian Trail appears to look like a demon or a dinosaur footprint. What is it, really?
  • Waukesha water
    Healing waters of Waukesha turned sour
    The springs of Waukesha, WI were first advertised as "healing" but eventually the fabled waters dried up and the groundwater turned out to be radioactive.
  • bottomless, spooky geology
    The fabled Blue Hole of the Pine Barrens
    The fabled blue hole of the New Jersey Pine Barrens is rumored to be bottomless and the home of demons or monsters who will pull swimmers under.
  • cookie monster agate
    Cookie monster agate
    A geode infilled with milky blue quartz/agate bears an uncanny resemblance to Sesame Street's infamous Cookie Monster.
  • spooky geology, underground fire
    Fillmore underground fire
    A thermal anomaly in Fillmore, California emits gases and heat that can burn the vegetation. A form of spontaneous combustion, the underground fire is difficult to extinguish.
  • spooky geology, hexenplatte
    Hexenplatten – the witches’ stone
    The pitted surface of this outcrop in Switzerland was a mystery. Local people called it the "witches' stone" or Hexenplatten because they imagined it was formed from the witches dancing.
  • bottomless pit, spooky geology
    Legends and science of bottomless holes
    There are countless holes in the ground. Some have water. Some are just open void and darkness. When we can’t readily discern the depth, the hole begets additional legendary characteristics, including that of being bottomless. Let's check out the legends of bottomless holes.
  • Ringing rocks
    Ringing rocks and sonorous stones
    Ringing rocks, rocks that make a bell-like sound when hit with a hammer, are rare but occur across the world. They are seen as magical, mysterious, and scientifically curious. 
  • Hellmouth Batagaika
    The “Hellmouth” Batagaika crater
    A megaslump is affecting the villagers of Batagay in Yakutia, Siberia. Local legend is that it's a mouth to hell. The area of land continues to slump and sink, changing the landscape and creating a hazard for the village.
  • Pic de Bugarach
    Pic de Bugarach: The mysterious mountain
    Pic de Bugarach in Aude, France, is a place that effortlessly combines natural wonder and legends. Add to its history a heaping portion of serious scientific misunderstandings, flavor with rumors and imaginative speculation, then bake for centuries, and the result is a bizarre mashup of fact and fiction that satisfies in our modern spooky times.
  • Quicksand, spooky geology
    Trapped in Quicksand
    Quicksand was a deadly peril in unknown lands, according to pop culture in the late 1900s. But quicksand is a real thing and its creation (and your ability to escape from it) is a lesson in soil dynamics.
  • Lechuguilla-Cave
    Discovery of weird water pool in Lechuguilla cave
    The photo of a mint-green, pristine pool in Lechuguilla cave circulating on social media resulted in expressions of speculation, wonder, and a desire to visit. For many reasons, the cave area must remain off-limits and isolated.
  • eye agate
    Eye agate: The rock that looks back at you
    Eye agate is formed from water-deposited mineral inside rock voids. The result can be the creation of a very spooky specimen that attains legendary properties.
  • mimetolith, spooky geology
    Faces in Places: Mimetoliths
    Rock formations that look like faces are called "mimetoliths". Faces in rock can accrue great cultural significance as land marks. Societies place spiritual meaning into features that appear meaningful because they resemble a human form.
  • gravity hill, spooky geology
    Gravity Roads, Magnetic Hills, and Mystery Spots
    Mystery spots, magnetic hills, or gravity hills are local places named for their unusual characteristic of making the observer confused or unbalanced. Exploited as tourist spots, they have been explained as mysteries of nature. But they have a more complex and interesting cause.
  • hollow earth
    Pole Holes and the Hollow Earth
    A sci-fi trope, some people actually believed that there is substantial space inside the earth’s sphere where curious things occur. The history of the hollow earth idea is complex and far more serious than you might guess. It definitely qualifies as some spooky alternative to geology.
  • Devil's corkscrew
    Devil’s Corkscrews
    In the late 19th century, settlers came across bizarre, giant “stone screws” vertically embedded in the ground. Flummoxed as to what could cause such structures, the locals named them the “devil’s corkscrews”. Paleontologists would argue for over nearly a century about what they really were.
  • moving rocks
    Moving rocks of the Racetrack Playa
    For a long while, there was a popular mystery surrounding how moderately-sized rocks moved on their own across a dead flat surface in Death Valley leaving a trail behind them. That mystery is solved.
  • Devil's punchbowl
    Devil’s Punchbowl
    All around the world are remnants of a party of epic proportions - Devil's punchbowls. Or maybe the punch was more literal. Let's explore the interesting geology of these legendary cauldrons.
  • devil's gate
    Devil’s Gate
    Several sinister and infamous places around the world have been named the Devil's Gate and come with legends of murder, magic, and monsters. Let's take a brief tour.
  • Devil's kitchen
    Devil’s Kitchen
    Something evil may be cooking up in places given the name of the “Devil’s Kitchen”. In this piece, I examine some of the most famous locations that have earned this unpleasant name. It sounds like …
  • Devil's Den, spooky geology
    Devil’s Den
    Devil's Den is an infamous collection of large diabase boulders within the Gettysburg National Battlefield. The location has accrued spooky legends. But the truth about this diabolical place, and others with the same name, is connected to geology.
  • Devils head
    Devil Places
    There are countless places in the world named after the Devil. Devil-named places sometimes owe their moniker to the geology. The features of these places may create a spooky and foreboding feeling that reinforces the local legends of the places being cursed, evil or enchanted. Let's explore Satan's Kingdom on earth.
  • Thailand cave rescue
    Trapped in flooded caves
    From June into July of 2018, media coverage about 12 boys and an adult man trapped in a cave in Thailand transfixed people around the world. How did they get trapped and not be able to get out? Let's talk groundwater and karst.
  • earthquake lights
    Earthquake Lights
    The evidence for earthquake lights (EQLs) consists overwhelmingly of anecdotal accounts. But scientific evidence has been accumulating, and in the past 10 years a plausible theory to explain the host of unusual precursors has been proposed. This comprehensive guide examines the credibility and causes of earthquake lights.
  • sinkhole
    Sinkholes – Are you at risk?
    There is something highly unnerving about the thought that the ground can give way into a gaping void that can swallow trees, cars, structures, and even people. How frightened should you be of sinkholes? While they can be catastrophic, they are not entirely unpredictable. Includes recent news events.
  • flat earth
    Anti-globular convictions: Flat Earth belief explodes in popularity
    The flat earth idea vies for the most alternative geological idea out there. But the spookiest part may be the suggestion that the church, scientists, the government, the media, and private businesses are all conspiring to hide the truth from the rest of civilization. Flat earth ideas have gained traction as they have become political.
  • Board camp crystal mine
    Strange lights and levitating rocks at Arkansas crystal mine
    Examining the claims from the owners of a crystal mine tourist site in Arkansas who say that strange anomalies, including balls of light and levitation, occur on the site.
  • Devils tower
    Devils Tower: UFO Bulls-eye
    Devils Tower, a landmark of the Black Hills, isn't just another chunk of volcanic rock. It is a native sacred place, an icon of cinema and UFO lore, and focus of other ridiculous alt-geo ideas.
  • Lake Nyos
    Misbehaving lakes: Three water bodies that exhale death gas
    In August 1986, approximately 1800 people living in a 15-mile radius of Lake Nyos in Cameroon didn’t live to see the morning, dying by suffocation from toxic gas exhaled from the bottom of the lake.
  • London Hammer
    The hammer entombed in rock
    The London Hammer is an artifact beloved by Creationists because it appears to be a recent object embedded in old rock. While anomalous, it has a normal explanation.
  • stone tape, spooky geology
    Haunted rocks: The Stone Tape theory
    The “stone tape theory” is frequently used as a sciencey-sounding explanation to explain residual hauntings - appearances of images, sounds, and apparitions that do not interact directly with people. The premise is that the rock or building materials somehow record the event and play it back like a film. But they never asked a geologist about it.
  • psychometry
    Psychometry in geology
    Psychometry - the ability to measure the "soul" - was used in the mid-19th century to "read" the history of rocks. One geologists believed it could revolutionize the field as certain sensitive people could receive psychic impressions from objects.
  • Darvaza gate to hell
    Darvaza: Gate to Hell
    The Darvaza crater in Turkmenistan is a pit formed after a mistake by exploratory drillers. Fueled by natural gas, it's been impossible to extinguish and has been called a "gate to hell". More appropriately, it's been a gateway to tourist dollars.
  • Dowsing: Witching for water
    Dowsing (water divining or water witching) doesn’t work any better than chance or through use of surface clues. So why does it still spark heated arguments and create once-skeptical converts even today? Does it still have a place in modern well drilling?
  • Fairy Stones (natural crosses)
    A common twinning habit of the mineral staurolite results in cross-like crystal formations and guarantees it will be perceived as magical. It's common in Fairy Stone State Park in Virginia.
  • leylines
    Leylines: From the old straight track to Ghostbusters
    Interest in leylines or leys as paranormal energy pathways has surged in recent times as ghost hunters use the idea of spooky straight tracks to explain hauntings.
  • amazing fossils
    Amazing fossils: Death scenes – geologically preserved
    Earth processes can preserve exquisite detail and even a dramatic story of animals' life and death. Several examples of incredible preserved or fossilized remains have been found.
  • ground fissure
    Cracked, baby, cracked: The earth is splitting up with us humans
    Ground cracks and long fissures in dry areas can indicate an over-extraction of groundwater. Some view these features as a sign of End Times or earthquakes. At least, it's the end of easy to access clean water.
  • Baiae
    A Trip to Hell: Mysterious tunnel system and underground river at Baiae, Italy
    The ancient village of Baiae in Italy has secrets. A recent discovery suggests that an underground tunnel system may have served as a Oracle of the Dead and simulated a trip to Hell (Hades), including crossing an underground "river".
  • spooky geology
    Spooky Geology
    What is spooky geology about and what content falls into this category? Here is the introduction to this site.
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