When I first read about trovants, I couldn’t believe they were real. They sounded like objects Captain Kirk and his crew would discover on an alien planet. Strange rocks that grow when it rains and move from one place to another without any assistance. Totally sci-fi, right?
As I kept reading about them, I discovered that trovants aren’t a part of science fiction, they are just an amazing geological phenomena. These stones seem to grow as if they are alive, even though they’re not. They are found in the small Romanian village of Costesti. The word ‘trovant’ is a synonym for the German term “Sandsteinkonkretionen” (try saying that really fast), which means ‘cemented sand’.
Cemented sand – that’s a strange name for a rock, isn’t it? But that’s what trovants are – spherical shapes of sand that appeared on earth after powerful seismic activity. In fact, the earthquakes that brought these strange rocks into existence are said to have occurred 6 million years ago. Trovants grow when they come into contact with water. Stones as small as six to eight millimeters end up as large as six to ten meters. Some of them even move on their own. When cut, trovants reveal spherical and ellipsoidal rings, similar to tree trunks.
It is assumed that trovants consist of a stone core, with an outer shell of sand. After a heavy rain, smaller stones form on the larger ones, which is why they are called growing stones. All trovants are believed to be identical to each other, but I’m not sure if this is true.
There are many theories, some scientific, and some fantastical, explaining the origin and strange behavior of trovants. Scientists are baffled by the phenomenon. They believe that under the shell, the stones contain a high mineral content. When the surface becomes wet, the minerals begin to spread, and pressurize the sand to expand. This makes the stones ‘grow’.
But this is just a theory; no well-documented research or conclusive experiments have ever been conducted on these miraculous rocks. For now, they remain a popular tourist attraction in Romania. “Muzeul Trovantilator” (Trovants Museum National Reserve) was inaugurated in 2004 and is now protected by UNESCO.
Don’t forget to pay the trovants a visit if you ever happen to visit Romania!