Valley of Balls – Shetpe, Kazakhstan - Atlas Obscura
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Shetpe, Kazakhstan

Valley of Balls

Mysterious spherical rocks in the semi-desert of western Kazakhstan. 

Close to the town of Shetpe in Western Kazakhstan lies the Valley of Balls – or Torysh, as it is known in Kazakh. It consists of numerous ball-like rock formations strewn across a wide range of steppe land. The balls range in size from tiny marble-like rocks to huge boulders the size of a car.

The phenomenon is poorly researched, but there could be a number of geological explanations from megaspherulites - crystalline balls formed in volcanic ash and then revealed by weathering - to cannonball concretions - a process where sediment accumulates around a harder core - to spherical weathering wherein the conditions are just right to erode rocks into spherical form. In this case due to the range of sizes the most likely explanation is that of spherulite formation.

Visible from the Valley is Sherkala (Lion Rock), a stunning 332m white and ochre chalk outcrop with numerous fissures along its rim and even more rock formations at its foot. Close by are also the scant ruins of the Silk Road town Kyzylkala.

Contributed by
T Tawsam
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