Knowledge about atomic scale motions is essential to the understanding of dynamical phenomena on surfaces, such as diffusion, phase transitions, and epitaxial growth. We demonstrate that the addition of a very small number of Pb atoms to a Ge(111) surface reduces the energy barrier for activated processes, thus allowing one to observe concerted atomic motions and metastable structures on this surface near room temperature using a tunneling microscope. The activation energy for surface diffusion of isolated substitutional Pb atoms in Ge(111)-c(2×8) was measured by observing individual atomic interchanges from 24°C to 79°C. We also observed the formation and annihilation of metastable structural surface excitations, which are associated with large numbers of germanium surface atoms in one row of the c(2×8) reconstruction shifting along that row like beads on an abacus. The effect provides a new mechanism for atomic transport on semiconductor surfaces and can explain a number of other observed phenomena associated with Ge(111) surfaces, including the surface diffusion of Pb atoms.