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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke July 8, 2021

Devils Tower is a rock formation, despite wrong, recycled claims on social media

If Your Time is short

  • This claim originated as satire.

  • Geologists say Devils Tower is formed of a rare igneous rock called phonolite porphyry.

Devils Tower — 1,267 feet of rock rising above the Belle Fourche River in Wyoming — is the first national monument, designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. It’s also a sacred place for Native American tribes, and geologists have studied its formation since the late 1800s.

But a Facebook post claims there’s been a new discovery that "will change history." 

"Scientists from the Wyoming State Parks Department were conducting photographic seismic readings below the tower when they discovered an incredibly large petrified root system below the tower," the post says. "The parks department released a statement saying, ‘We have discovered what looks like a giant root system stemming from the base of the Devils Tower. The root system has been measured at 4 miles deep by 7 miles wide. We are currently conducting studies and tests to confirm that this is actually a root system and not a coincidence’."

It’s not a coincidence, and this claim is also "completely false," according to a spokesperson for Wyoming state parks.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Featured Fact-check

The false information originated on a satire site, said Gary Schoene, public information office manager for Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails. The department has released no statement about a possible root system. Plus, Schoene said, because Devils Tower is a national monument, it’s part of the National Park Service system — not the state parks system. 

Geologists still wonder how the tower formed, but do know it’s formed of a rare igneous rock called phonolite porphyry, according to the National Park Service website.

Geologists agree that the tower started as magma, but there’s no consensus on how exactly the magma cooled to form the tower, according to the site.

The information in the Facebook post is fake, and it’s also not new. Snopes debunked it back in 2017, after a Facebook page that posts satire published the claims. Other fact-checkers looked into it in 2020. 

It’s 2021, and it’s still wrong. We rate this post False.

 

Our Sources

Facebook post, July 6, 2021

Facebook post, July 31, 2017

National Park Service, Devils Tower: How the tower formed, visited July 8, 2021

National Park Service, Devils Tower: Basic information, visited July 8, 2021

National Geographic, Devils Tower, visited July 8, 2021

Snopes, Was a giant system of roots discovered below the Devil’s Tower rock formation?, Aug. 1, 2017 

Interview with Gary Schoene, public information office manager, Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails, July 8, 2021

 

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Devils Tower is a rock formation, despite wrong, recycled claims on social media

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