Sliding rocks on the Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

Paula Messina on the Racetrack Playa
Dr. Paula Messina
Emeriti Professor

Department of Geology
San Jose State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, California 95192-0102

Phone: (408) 924-5050

I am a professor at San Jose State University whose work encompasses automated cartography, GPS (Global Position Systems) mapping applications, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) analyses, and remote sensing, especially applied to aeolian landforms and processes. Prior to becoming a professor, I taught high school for 20 years in Brooklyn, New York. While teaching, my research involved effective communication of abstract techniques by using high school students teaching these concepts to younger peers; in turn, the high schoolers would solidify their own understanding of the concepts.

My research, and this site, is focused on the sliding rocks of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, circa July 1996. The data is complied from over 100 rocks from a pre-1996 rock event. My research has been featured on educational television programs, such as PBS' Nature:Life in Death Valley, The History Channel: Mystery Of Death Valley's Sailing Stone, and National Geographic. The process was documented over ten days and mapped over 60 miles (96 km).