Strange lights and levitating rocks at Arkansas crystal mine

Springing from the spine of Arkansas’ Ouachita mountains are several commercial crystal mines open for public collecting of sizable quartz crystals. Only one such mine claims to be an area of bizarre paranormal activity occurring in association with special “crystal energy” at the site. The claims are so extraordinary the owners think it may not be safe for people to visit unaccompanied. The activity at the site has attracted the attention of UFO investigators and a crew from the Travel Channel’s Expedition Unknown series. Stories from the Board Camp Crystal Mine are a perfect example of Spooky Geology.

This fascinating place in Mena, Arkansas is owned by Orville and Cheryl Murphy, who, by all accounts, are God-fearing, hospitable, well-spoken, humorous, and honest people who opened the mine in 2012. According to the local newspaper report, strange incidents began in February of 2017 when the Murphys noticed odd lights including glowing spheres that floated and moved as if under intelligent control. But even more extraordinarily, they have photographs and accounts that claim the rocks there move and even levitate!

Aerial view of the Board Camp Mine location from Google maps.

Investigators from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) headed to the site. The following is from the Mena Star describing the MUFON involvement:

The Murphys report that since February of this year, there has been phenomena happening at Board Camp Crystal Mine, which was undeniably scientifically unexplained, according to [Chase] Kloetzke and her team of [MUFON] investigators. They conducted the investigation at the mine on February 22, just 4 days after the first oddity was experienced by the Murphys and their son, Josh White, who was visiting from Austin, TX. According to the Murphys, Kloetzke explained that the occurrence of the reported phenomena attracted MUFON’s interest because of the physical evidence left behind and the Murphys’ credibility as witnesses. Upon a visit, Kloetzke herself experienced some of the phenomena!

We aren’t privy to this evidence because the parties involved agreed not to disclose all the information until the Expedition Unknown special episode airs. Josh Gates, the host of the show and a well-known paranormal celebrity figure, visited the site on May 26. The MUFON team had reported their observations to the Travel Channel in March prompting the site to be featured in a four-part mini-series called Hunt for Extraterrestrials. You can view the quite dramatic trailer for the special here. (See update below.)

We can hear many of the claims about the mine from what the Murphys have shared on their Facebook page, YouTube channel, and from promotion on their website. A particularly detailed interview with the Murphys is available from the Inception Radio podcast, which is where I obtained several details below. What’s so weird about this place?

Last winter, Orville reported seeing sparks of light at the site. He calls them “orbs” – a common term for seemingly intelligent and anomalous balls of light. Cheryl didn’t see them at first. Orville then filmed the orbs. The video taken at night shows a light, but size and distance are impossible to judge. They said some friends suggested that the lights could be caused by the “crystal energy” at the location. Claims about the magical properties of quartz crystals are ubiquitous on the Internet. Single crystals are promoted by New Age practitioners as healing devices, having some as yet undiscovered “energy”. Quartz does have piezoelectric properties – a voltage potential can be generated when a stress, like squeezing, is applied to it. Orville clearly understands that quartz has triboluminescent properties. As a demonstration, visitors reported that he heats a crystal, then sprays it with water to rapidly cool it to produce a spark and also strikes the crystals to produce visible light.The Murphys appear to connect the anomalous lights they see to this “piezo energy” feature of the crystals.

One anomaly, however, was described as beyond the normal activity. The Murphys experienced a light event of “major proportions” that lasted 10 seconds. Three beams of light, like spotlights, went an estimated 300 feet in the air and flattened on top. Cheryl said she couldn’t tell if the beams were going up or coming down. They later entertained the possibility that the lights were from some craft floating in the air. What if UFOs were fueling up on crystal energy?! Some neighbors, they said, had also reported lights on adjacent properties and also say they saw some kind of craft in the sky. The Murphys allege that several events were witnessed by multiple people at the same time.

MUFON and other investigators were called in. The timeline and circumstances aren’t exactly clear. But the claims grew to include more than just lights. People at the site reported their batteries were drained unusually quickly, that there were incidents of static electricity and perhaps burn marks or dead plant material, and that the fence posts became “magnetized” and “polarized”. Investigators brought in a hydrophone because they knew crystals were created by water, they said. The hydrophone was said to have detected the sound of water rushing below ground. Water coming up from the subsurface was also reported (after an above-normal rainfall period).

It all sounds very weird, the Murphys agree. The Murphys and the investigators who have shared bits of their experiences (noting the confidentiality agreements required by the Travel Channel until the show aires) are enthusiastically speculating about the causes. They think that the quartz crystal energy and the flowing water might be connected. In the Inception Radio interview, the Murphys suggest that the natural flow of earth energy has been disturbed. The crystals, they say, emit a “frequency” and they are part of a powerful “energy grid” in the earth – a theme related to ley lines. The crystals are interacting with the water’s electromagnetic charge and creating the light phenomena in the form of plasma. Ideas about the cause of these reported anomalies are all over the place. Also put forward was the idea that sound waves (or “vibrational frequencies”) may be producing the colors in the orbs which, the owners claim, are seen almost every night regardless of weather conditions. It is impossible to tell size and distance, let alone the source of the lights, from videos taken in the dark without markers or direction.

If you can believe it, things got even weirder. Another of the Murphy’s videos purports to show a rock on the site becoming weightless (a scale shown in the picture) and then levitating a foot off the ground! According to the Board Creek Crystal Mine Facebook page, others have reported that crystals obtained from the site levitated when they got home, which appears to exceed the bounds of known geological science (and sort of negates the idea that the site itself is producing some mysterious anti-gravity effect). Falling and rolling rocks, they suspect, might be coming out from “portals” (from another dimension). They also think the mine site may be a “vortex” – an area of the earth with special electromagnetic energy properties. Cheryl suggested that new scientific discoveries could explain this. In a comment to me on the FB page, she writes:

What’s amazing is that this last year or so, on the Science channel we hear scientists sharing theories of multiple universes, our universe is not finite, sound frequencies emitting color, (which is a possible theory for the colorful orbs we’ve been told), all the quantum science, it’s just amazing that we’re hearing things now, we never dreamed of hearing. We believe there has to be something with those levitating rocks to do with sound frequencies, or the continuing elevated electromagnetic field. For example, we just put new fence posts in the ground a month ago. They are now magnetized, when tested with a Gauss meter, and even polarized, when tested with a compass! What could cause that? It’s fascinating, and we prefer to approach this from a scientific viewpoint, but let’s face it… the number of testimonies of UFOs from credible witnesses for the last 50+ years, and now local neighbors who contacted us to share their stories of weird lights they’ve seen around here, does draw our attention!

The Murphys closed the mine until mid-July when it was reopened for special tours but not collecting. The new tours are billed as “UnXplained” and the website is curiously called  For more rampant speculation about the geology and hydrology and various fringe ideas, I suggest listening to the Murphys describe this in their own words available on the Inception Radio podcast, which focuses on potential UFO activity.

I contacted the Arkansas Geological Survey to ask them what they knew about this mine and the bizarre claims surrounding it. They hadn’t heard the news of these extraordinary events! In my discussions with geologist Corbin Cannon, we couldn’t come up with any ideas for why this particular mine is any more geologically special than the rest.

The mine is situated in the Stanley Shale. The quartz veins and associated minerals were hydrothermally emplaced during the closing stages of the mountain building event, around 280 to 245 million years ago. [See Howard, 2008] The Murphys seemed amazed at the consistency of the prismatic crystal shape, however, this is a normal habit of quartz. There are no mapped magnetic anomalies at this location and, though there is plenty of faulting due to the past orogenic stresses, the area is not seismically active. The shale is an aquitard (cannot transmit any useful amount of water) and the location is on a dip slope. This might explain the sound of water reported by the investigators. But it’s unclear if there are pipes underground that could also account for the sounds. The possibility exists that stray current could be leaking from the electrical lines from nearby houses and traveling through the ground. This may account for electromagnetic field observations. With regards to polarization and magnetization of the fence posts, pieces of metal regularly exhibit such polarity. It’s not unusual. I just checked a garden ornament on a metal post outside with a compass and, sure enough, the top and the bottom register differently on the compass. It’s not clear what Orville meant when he said the posts were magnetized, especially if they contain iron. Iron posts in the ground can also conduct any small current running through the ground from stray electricity lines. These various factors could be producing some electromagnetic field variations. So, we can see that many of the so-called anomalous claims aren’t strange at all but can seem so when taken out of context.

It’s not possible to make any conclusions from the videos of the lights. There is not enough information.

The videos of the levitating and moving rocks are also not helpful. They consist of series of still pictures taken with a game camera. The levitation effects could easily have been achieved with clear thread or fishing line. The associated flashes of lights in the photos along with the temperature changes and other effects can also be recreated without too much effort. No live video of the anomalous movement is available.

Several visitors reported hearing thumps (presumed to be falling rocks) or seeing rocks roll by. I’m afraid that’s just not enough evidence to say something unusual is going on. A few unimpressive videos are not enough to convince most people that the physical laws of the universe are being violated at this location considering that alternative, non-paranormal explanations are readily available. If it is eventually well-documented that the site is one-of-a-kind, where nature behaves supernaturally, or some undocumented stresses are causing the quartz to produce orbs of light, then perhaps we can consider it a phenomenal place.

The paranormal vibe created at the site is a nifty way for the owners to distinguish their mine from the others in the area as a tourist attraction. That the site will be featured on a TV show is priceless promotion. The site joins hundreds of other locations around the U.S. that use spooky claims to draw paying visitors. The Murphys continue to encourage scientists to come and investigate but, so far, only MUFON, the TV crew and some tour groups seem to have been able to make collective observations there. The Arkansas Geological Survey has not been contacted even after this contact was suggested to the Murphys. It is the job of the AGS to catalog the geological information of the state. Documenting claims of a crystal energy vortex that causes all sorts of amazing anomalies and serves as an extraterrestrial refueling station sounds like a very urgent phenomenon to document!

A request to the MUFON investigator for their report on the site has not been answered. But the report is scheduled to be published in the MUFON Journal issue of November 2017, after the TV program airs.

I hope to update this entry as more information becomes available.

Expedition Unknown special featuring this location has aired (25 Oct 2017)

Part 4 of the series “Search for Extraterrestrials” has aired on Travel Channel. I’ll be blunt – don’t watch it. It contains basically no interesting information or evidence about the location. The presentation did not live up to the extreme hype and it’s cringey to have to watch Josh Gates act so over-the-top dramatic about a big nothingburger. They did see a light at the Board Camp site at night and recorded it, but it doesn’t tell us anything. It could have been a satellite, a drone, or some other man-made thing, but the details are lacking in order to make that determination. Plus, it didn’t rise from the ground or descend from the sky. It simply floated over. Apparently. Remember: this is television and not good television at that. Do not trust “infotainment”; it is not equivalent to facts.

The show did not mention the levitating rocks or other paranormal effects that the owners and visitors have promoted as happening there. The idea of crystals playing a role was not even broached. No background was really provided at all.

As it stands, the promotion of alien craft, strange lights, crystal energy and physics-defying rocks at this location (or any location) are without substantial evidence to support their reality. There are certainly many subjective claims but those are not reliable enough to make a conclusion about the cause being something otherworldly. Extraordinary claims must have extraordinary evidence to back them up and these crystal claims fizzled out.

16 comments for “Strange lights and levitating rocks at Arkansas crystal mine

  1. Bob Jase
    September 24, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Humans have used quartz for tools & decoration & building material for thousands of years yet none of this magical stuff was noticed before the 1990’s. Must’ve taken 6 billion years to charge the crystals up.

  2. lagaya
    October 26, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    I brought lots of quartz crystals home from a trip to Arkansas a few years ago. Now when i hear things moving around at night, I’ll know it’s the crystals, not the cats.

  3. Carolyn Watson
    October 29, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I have lived in Polk county, Arkansas my whole life. I have personally witnessed weird light anomaly in many different locations in the county. All of the incidents happened under different conditions. I am fairly certain that at least one of the incidents was ball lightening. Several of the incidents that I witnessed was in the company of others and we all saw the same thing. There is most certainly something going on but I am not sure that it has anything to do with the stones or not. In 47 years time I haven’t figured it out so if anyone does I would love to hear what the answer is. I will say that these instances have all been intermittent and very brief in duration. I have never seen rocks levitate or move other than normal motion. I have seen orbs of light with the naked eye. I have never seen weird burned leaves but I have seen dead circles where nothing will grow. Make of it what you will. It is what ever it is.

    • idoubtit
      October 29, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Like you suggested, Carolyn, I’d say it’s a good bet “what is is” is a number of different things. It seems that if you say they were under many different conditions in different areas, that they have different explanations. We should be careful not to group them together because we could lose information that way.

  4. Kenny Biddle
    November 9, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    I watched the first video (mix of still images and videos of a single light) and a few things really stand out. The videos are consistent with other videos in which the light is in the distance and the camera is made to jump around. I find it odd that even though the guy states he’s walking towards the light (in the first clip), we don’t hear any footsteps. He’s walking outside, we can hear his voice, and movements of the camera…but not him walking. Even when the light “zooms off screen”, it looks like the camera simply turned away quickly – there’s even an accompanying sound from the camera body when it moves. The still images seem to be in sets, which each set containing close-ups of the original. In many of these, they resemble dust particle “orbs” in many alleged paranormal images.

    The second video is just crap.

    In the third video between images 3 and 4, there are a bunch of ground disturbances around where the rocks “moved”. Basically, I would bet these disturbances are from the person rushing around to move all the stones before the next picture was taken.

    I see a lot of clues to staging in those videos.

  5. December 12, 2017 at 10:54 am

    “Extraordinary claims must have extraordinary evidence to back them up” – No. They just need scientifically valid evidence. What is extraordinary evidence? Does the scientist have to stand on his head and move his toes in the air?

    • idoubtit
      December 12, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Do you need scientifically valid evidence for everyday claims you accept as true? Rarely. You believe the evidence of testimony – what people tell you is often good enough to get through the day just fine. There is little reason to question their mundane observations. But to make a claim that you saw some anomaly requires more than just testimony to accept it. If you are suggesting the laws of physics did not apply, you need more than just a story as evidence. That’s is what that dictum means.

      • December 12, 2017 at 11:54 am

        I am thinking scientifically, not in everyday claims. In science, the term “everyday claims” doesn’t exist. A scientist asks for evidence for everything. And if he looks at the evidence and finds flaws, he is entitled to doubt the claim, even if it is an “everyday claim”. In other words: Testimony isn’t enough, no matter what the claim is. That’s why students make science experiments at school. They have to understand the scientific method and how to prove claims.

        BTW, an anomaly isn’t the same as the claim “the laws of physics did not apply”. For example, it is possible to levitate some materials inside a magnetic field. This is perfectly inside the laws of physics. So, my first hypothesis for any levitation of stones I could observe would be this (besides fraud which I exclude if I’m alone), not any hypothesis that would break the laws of physics.

        But I totally agree with you, that a series of photos isn’t any evidence at all. But a series of photos of a levitation inside a magnetic field wouldn’t be any evidence for me as well.

        • idoubtit
          December 12, 2017 at 12:43 pm

          Well I am talking much more broadly as people who say they believe in the paranormal primarily cite testimony as their driver. Paranormal claims hold little to no weight scientifically.

          I didn’t say anomaly was equivalent to laws of physics. Your analogies are not corresponding well to my point of this post. But levitating rocks with no evidence of any reasoning is contrary to physical laws. Also, show me levitating rocks. Novelty and industrial uses notwithstanding as this is supposedly a natural setting. The claims made at this site are absurd and unfounded.

          • December 12, 2017 at 1:14 pm

            I am a psychologist interested in the field of anomalistic psychology (also called parapsychology). I agree, testimony isn’t appropriate evidence for me as well. But “Paranormal claims hold little to no weight scientifically” isn’t true. It depends on the claims. There are some experiments in anomalistic psychology, which could prove replicable anomalies.

            Besides this, I think that any claim deserves propper research. Saying that it’s absurd isn’t enough for me.

          • idoubtit
            December 12, 2017 at 2:57 pm

            Sorry I do not agree that parapsychology is equivalent to anomalistic psychology. See Cardeña et al 2015 and Anomalistic Psychology by French & Stone 2013

            Anomalistic psychology as currently defined is about the psychology of paranormal belief not proving or explaining anomalies.

          • December 12, 2017 at 3:26 pm

            This is wrong. At least in Germany, both are synonyms. Of course, parapsychology explores paranormal belief as well as explanations for anomalies. Scientific parapsychology does not claim that these anomalies are “supernatural”.

          • idoubtit
            December 12, 2017 at 3:28 pm

            Two sources I just cited are internationally recognized. I think it’s you who are wrong.

          • December 12, 2017 at 3:30 pm

            Ok. I am wrong. 20 years of work in the field in vain. 😉 Bye

  6. Heather
    December 29, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Look up Hessdalen lights. The stories are very similar along with the fact that both locations are near mines. Scientific research of the Hessdalen lights resulted in a hypothesis that states lights are due to the combustion of hydrogen, oxygen, and sodium. I would say Hessdalen lights hypothesis seems more plausible rather than assuming the lights are due to extraterrestrial or paranormal phenomena. The show should have presented this information, but I guess that doesn’t make for good television. Big surprise.

    • idoubtit
      December 29, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      The Hessdalen lights have been known and studied, even filmed. These AK lights are quite different. And probably mostly nonsense.

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