Link - article by M. Christian and Avi Abrams

We don't know what they are, where they came from, or what caused them

Scientists love a mystery. Biologists used to have the human genome, but now they have the structure of protein. Physics used to have cosmic rays, but now they have the God particle. Astronomers used to have black holes, but now they have dark matter.

And then there’s the puzzle, the enigma, the joyous mystery that dots the world over: the riddle of what’s commonly called Mima Mounds.

(photos by Chris Joseph Taylor, Arthur M. Ritchie)

What’s an extra added bonus about these cryptic ‘whatevertheyares’ is that they aren’t as miniscule as a protein sequence, aren’t as subatomic as the elusive God particle, and certainly not as shadowy as dark matter. Found in such exotic locales as Kenya, Mexico, Canada, Australia, China and in similarly off-the-beaten path locations as California, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and especially Washington state, the mounds first appear to be just that: mounds of earth.

(images via 1, 2)

The first thing that’s odd about the mounds is the similarity, regardless of location. With few differences, the mounds in Kenya are like the mounds in Mexico which are like the mounds in Canada which are like the … well, you get the point. All the mounds are heaps of soil from three to six feet tall, often laid out in what appear to be evenly spaced rows. Not quite geometric but almost. What’s especially disturbing is that geologists, anthropologists, professors, and doctors of all kinds – plus a few well-intentioned self-appointed "experts" – can’t figure out what they are, where they came from, or what caused them.

(Close up aerial view of Mima Prairie mounds. image via)

Not man-made, hardly nature-made and possibly not subconscious-made

One of the leading theories is that they are man-made, probably by indigenous people. Sounds reasonable, no? Folks in loincloths hauling dirt in woven baskets, meticulously making mound after mound after … but wait a minute. For one thing it would have been a huge amount of work, especially for a culture that was living hand-to-mouth. Then there’s the fact that, as far as can be determined, there’s nothing in the mounds themselves. Sure they aren’t exactly the same as the nearby ground, but they certainly don’t contain grain, pot shards, relics, mummies, arrowheads, or anything that really speaks of civilization. They are just dirt. And if they are man-made, how did the people in Kenya, Mexico, Canada, Australia, China, California, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and especially Washington state all coordinate their efforts so closely as to produce virtually identical mounds? That’s either one huge tribe or a lot of little ones who somehow could send smoke signals thousands of miles. Not very likely.

A map of suggested mima mound structures in the US. From Science Frontiers #119, SEP-OCT 1998, William R. Corliss

Google Earth images of Mima Mounds in China - more info

Next on the list of explanations is that somehow the mounds were created either by wind and rain or by geologic ups and downs – that there’s some kind of bizarre earthy effect that has caused them to pop up. Again, it sounds reasonable, right? After all, there are all kinds of weird natural things out there: rogue waves, singing sand, exploding lakes, rains of fish and frogs – so why shouldn’t mother nature create field after field of neat little mounds?

The "natural" theory of nature being responsible for the Majorly Mysterious Mima Mounds starts to crumble upon further investigation. Sure there’s plenty of things we don’t yet understand about how our native world behaves scientists do know enough to be able to say what it can’t do – and it’s looking pretty certain it can’t be as precise, orderly, or meticulous as the mounds.

Google Earth views of mounds - for the coordinates and actual map, click here.

But still more theories persist. For many who believe in ley lines, that crop circles are some form of manifestation of our collective unconscious, in ghosts being energy impressions left in stone and brick, the mounds are the same, or at least similar: the result of an interaction between forces we as yet do not understand, or never will, and our spaceship earth.

Google Earth images of Mima Mounds in Africa - more info

Then who's responsible?... wait for it...

Others, those who prefer their granola slightly less crunchy or wear their tinfoil hats a little less tightly, have suggested what I – in my own ill-educated opinion – consider to be perhaps the best theory to date. Some, naturally, have dismissed this concept out-of-hand, suggesting that the whole idea is too ludicrous even to be the subject of a dinner party, let alone deserving the attention and respect of serious research.

But I think this attitude shows not only lack of respect but a lack of imagination. I simply ask that this theory be considered in all fairness and not dismissed without the same serious consideration these now well-respected theories have received.

After all, giant gophers could very well be responsible for the Majorly Mysterious Mima Mounds.

(image via, more info)

Any other ideas?

PS: these weird mounds were recently featured in an excellent story by Laird Barron "Proboscis". Seek it out, it's definitely worth the read (online versions are available here) That story is a definition of a head trip.

Also Read:
The Richat Structure: The Eye of the Earth
The Exploding Lake
Caves: The World Beneath the World

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

At http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/publications/lifepublications/lifefocus/documents/military_en.pdf (page 29) you will find a couple of (fairly poor) pictures of the Porton Down antscape - hectares of anthills, cheek by jowl, albeit without the geometric regularity your pictures show. Could your mounds have been "built" by insects? I imagine it would take some hundreds of years for such mounds to naturally erode away (depending on local conditions). Here in Wiltshire, UK, there are a good number of neolithic burial mounds which have survived several thousand years, and some of these would (even when "new") have been no higher than the mounds you describe. So current occupation by ants need not rule out such origins. Just a thought!

Blogger Sigivald said...

But, given the pictures, the mounds aren't meticulous and regular, especially in a way defying natural creation.

They're not all that regular and not at all meticulously laid out in the example images... the Google ones particularly make them look like an erosive artifact.

(The seismic activity hypothesis looks pretty likely, to my eyes.)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess would be that at one time a certain type of tree or plant grew where the mounds are, and rain eroded the areas between them, where there were fewer roots to hold onto the earth. Eventually the trees/ plants died off for some reason, leaving the mounds.

Blogger Bill said...

Looks like a standing wave pattern to me. I wonder how the locations of these sites would map compared to sources of vibrations. Hmmm.

Blogger vanarebane said...

Well it has kind of an texture like some footwear. Maybe it's the carbon footprint?

The other thought I had that when mud dries out it leaves cracks in it (like here http://www.photos.com/en/search/close-up?oid=2710969&hoid=8f04e1d10fb5cea7a9bcc4c10ceb71ec)
and those mountains are some sort of soil that dried up deep into ground and bigger cracks appeared. Through time wind has carved the edges off the cracks and made those bumps look smooth.

Blogger Unknown said...

To me the patterns kinda look like when water is boiling in a pot..

Could at one point they could all have been hot springs?


sulfur springs:

Blogger BlogDog said...

Goose bumps on Mother Earth as she cools down.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live near the Mima mounds in Olympia and have heard professors speculate on theories. There is zero evidence of any link to animals. We are close to the terminus of the gaciers during the last ice age. But the most reasonable hypothesis that I've heard has to do with seismic activity. If you put sand on a piece of plywood and bang rythmically with a hammer it forms into regularly spaced little mounds.
Steve in Olympia

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really big frost heaves?

Either that or Mothra eggs.

Blogger Craig A. Mullenbach said...

After reading this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mima_Mounds

It seems there is likely a variety of explanations for various mounds around the world. Here in MN I've seen what pocket gophers can do.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess would be... grass. Perhaps with some helper ants/insects/rodents/rabbits for soil fertilisation and turnover. Seeing how quickly grass can build up topsoil (for instance, over a paved path), I don't doubt that over centuries such mounds could build up. All it needs, is some positive feedback between ground surface height (above the water table, or frost zone, or dew-catching, or wind-blown dust collecting, or average sunlight levels) and rate of grass growth - and you'd get mounds. Big ones.

Heck, it might even be something as simple as rabbits liking to sit on top of the mounds for the view, and pooping there - greener grass, more rabbits, more... etc.

Positive feedback is a powerful effect. (Says me, the electronics engineer.)


Blogger Blyzz said...

You can also find them in South Africa.
on Wikimapia:

on flickr:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course they are natural. Just because the exact method of their formation is not yet known is no reason to jump to supernatural conclusions.

Looks to me like an interference pattern of some sort, probably seismic.

Your statement that natural formations "can't be as precise, orderly, or meticulous as the mounds" is breathtakingly ignorant.

Here's an example of a different natural phenomenon creating an equally strange regular landscape: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2665675.stm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Bill, those look like acoustic wave patterns created by some sort of seismic activity. To indicate cause by flora or fauna, there would have to be traceable remains of either in, on, or around those mounds.

Blogger M' T said...

As far as I have read and understood those mounds were made by indians. They used them to grow certain crops that needed a type of ground elevation, in order to get the conditions right for the crops to grow (moisture levels etc.).

(apparently this theory of those mounds being human made is supported broadly among archaeologists, and having read that book i'm also inclined to believe it to be true)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, miniature giant space gophers?

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live near some of these and have wondered about them for years. Glad to finally have a name for them and to know no one else knows that they are either.

Blogger Unknown said...

I couldn't even start guessing what the heck these things are. I just find it funny that Canada is referred to as an "exotic locale" along with Kenya and Australia.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly these are NOT "Mothra eggs",
but rather the pupae mounds left whenever Rush Limbaugh visits an area.
When he and Sarah Palin are declared
King and Queen, they will burst forth
and destroy Godless heathens and organic farms the world over.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think theyre made from earthquakes when the ground is loose like sand forms these shapes when on something that vibrates at the right frequency. This could be a bigger scale of it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's the mystery?

Looking at them, i'd say they're caused by the vibration of the earth (the schumann resonance)
and fluctous interference with the cosmic hum (prana/vril/orgone/ether).

Check out the field of Cymatics of Prof Dr. Hans Jenny.


[B]Everything[/B] is a a vibration.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! These are the places where the Teletubbies live! I KNEW they weren't just fairy tales! :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they are likely the remnants
of forests. Each mound is a root ball
left over from a decayed tree. The root ball decayed into a pile ofcompost
that eventually became a mound. That is why they are so consistent in form
and the same around the world.


Blogger Avi Abrams said...

re:virag0 - Wow, there is a fresh look on things! )

Blogger cybrbeast said...

Seems like regularly spaced Pingo formation.
Pingos form from ice lensen in periglacial climates, so it makes sense that they would be found at the edges of ancient ice caps.

Blogger Unknown said...

What Anonymous wrote sounds very plausible: "My guess would be that at one time a certain type of tree or plant grew where the mounds are, and rain eroded the areas between them, where there were fewer roots to hold onto the earth. Eventually the trees/ plants died off for some reason, leaving the mounds."

But I am sure that scientists would easily be able to confirm this by simply digging a big hole in one these mounded areas are analyzing the soil and so forth.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have spent a bit of time looking at these mounds in Oregon and California and find that ALL 3 main theories for the mounds FAIL for the same reason, none come lose to covering the range of the mounds.

FAR MORE MOUNDS exist in areas that

1. are not seismically active than are.

2. are outside the range of gophers than within (also there is no signs of gopher activity within the mounds.) This theory is stupidity squared anyway.

3. are outside of areas of glacial wash than are in such areas.

There is no plant or animal that even comes close to covering the entire range of the mounds.

What they are is unknown, they have the appearance of agricultural areas and their internal structure indicates the same thing. This does not mean that is what they are, but this is the only hypothesis that cannot be easily eliminated based on range and structure. The argument against this is that no people were around to build them. Try and find solid research to support this and you may be surprised at the lack thereof.

Blogger Hank said...

I thought these were caused by episodic floods from glacial lakes. At least that is what I recall. The huge fresh water lake inside an ice dammed basin breaks free and the more flat and wide areas of the lowest areas get that pattern that probably reflects water flowing at a certain rate (reynolds number?) over a surface. Where there are larger obstacles you get different formations. Most of S.E. Washington State was formed that way as I (perhaps wrongly) recall. Or it was Mothra.

Blogger Tracy said...

hey Avi, checkout the chocolate hills of Bohol, Philippines.



Blogger Clint said...

Seismic activity is possible, as is the pingo theory, and perhaps even virag0's tree root theory ... though I suspect that one would leave some kind of organic or even fossilized remains. I tend to lean more toward a version of William's theory of glacial flooding. I know Washington was flooded during the draining of the proglacial Lake Missoula. Other reagions have flooded for other reasons. The southern U.S., for instance, was flooded in tsunami's resulting from the Chicxulub impact.

The thing is, all thesemounds don't necessarily have to have the same origin. Different natural events could very well leave similar artifacts.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

standing wave maybe

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a rash!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The structure of the soil in most cases is granular, and, under the right conditions of loose packing and moisture this can behave like a thixotropic liquid. At the right frequency (presumably from siesmic activity), mounds can form.


for the mechanism.

Anonymous Tom Givnish said...

Freeze-thaw cycles are known to create highly regular, polygonal patterns in tundra, based on differential expansion of soil- vs. rock-rich domains. I wonder whether swell-shrink cycles could produce the same kinds of patterns on fine-grained soils with lots of clay that dramatically changes volume when wetted vs. dried.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Answer is Seismic,,,,,Why is that so hard to grasp?
Gophers? Plants? Indians?

Come on....get realistic.

Blogger controscience said...

It's likely the result of a plasma discharge of some sort. Scientists are failing to connect the dots that much of what we see in the planetary sciences is the result of electric discharge machining. See my graphic at ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like information is intentionally being suppressed as if straining to keep this a tourism mystery or whatever. Why don't we see more cross-sectional views?

Seismic activity sounds sciencey, but we don't seem to have evidence of new mounds from new earthquakes. We need to know more about what's under the surface and something about the surroundings. It's only a single observation, but I saw a cross-section on TV that appeared as maybe 1-3 feet of mounded dirt over a flat layer of gravel.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if these formations were biological?


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