Monday, May 26, 2014

Fire in the Sky

May 19, 2014 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

A meteoroid is a chunk of space rock. If it burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere, it is a called a meteor; if a piece lands, it is a meteorite.
High up on the wall of this cliff in the Superstitions
you can see what might be an impact zone.
On the slope below there appears to be debris from an impact.
Around 1990, I began to hear stories about a meteor that impacted east of the First Water Trail Head. One witness told me he heard the explosion when the meteor hit the earth. He claimed to be near the impact zone. Also, he said he saw the flash from the impact. I trusted this man’s story, but he didn’t want to share the story publicly or reveal the exact location.

I heard about a meteoritic impact zone in the mountains at a certain location some two years later from another individual. He shared the

It certainly appeared something had hit high upon the cliff and brought down rocks and debris. I climbed up to the base of the cliff, but didn’t recognize anything that might be meteoritic. I didn’t find any meteorites. I took several photographs and was convinced this was not a meteorite impact area.

I would like to share some stories with you that I have heard many times and from different sources. I am not putting much value in the tales, however I believe some aspects of the stories are worth repeating.

Several years ago I was returning from a horseback trip into the Superstition Mountains. I had departed from First Water early that morning and rode east toward Garden Valley, Second Water, and Boulder Canyon. I was doing some exploring around the old Indian Paint mine and taking photographs of what I found.

It was a beautiful day and I just lost track of time. I packed up my camera, other equipment and started the ride out. I could see I would be riding after sunset and probably into darkness. I witnessed a celestial event while riding from the first parking lot to the second parking lot where my truck and horse trailer were parked. A very bright light streaked across the sky and appeared to impact somewhere in the northern portion of the Superstition Wilderness Area.

Over the years I have made several trips into the mountains and have never found any clues associated with the meteor I observed crossing the sky west to east low on the horizon on that dark night. However, I have heard many stories about a meteorite impacting high up on the canyon wall in La Barge Canyon about the same time.

I have remained skeptical about contemporary meteor impacts in the Superstition Wilderness Area. About two years ago I ran into a man who claimed he had removed meteoritic material from the Superstition Wilderness Area. He claimed there were lots of small chrondrites (Stony meteorites) in a canyon east of the First Water Parking lot. He went so far to say he had even sold some of them. Because of the nature of his statements and his lack of credibility, I didn’t place much value in what he said. He did not wish to share his name or any personal information.

I continue to wonder if a meteor actually struck the Earth the night I was riding out of the mountains and if it was the one I saw. Often, it is stories like these that become legends.

As many of us know, there are many legends and tales about the Superstition Mountains. Meteorites are extremely valuable and demand a high price. There are several meteorite collectors in this country. I am not sure if it would be legal to remove meteoritic material from an impact site within the boundaries the Superstition Wilderness Area.

During the past eons of time there has certainly been meteors that have impacted the wilderness area. Finding these meteorites would require a specially trained-eye. The only hint that would help a novice searcher would be flow-marks on the meteorite. I doubt texture would prove to be significant in a field where lots of volcanic debris can be found.

The search for meteorites in the Superstition Wilderness Area is probably fool’s play, but one never knows for sure. Another man once said, “Your chances of finding meteorites in the Superstition Wilderness Area is much better than finding gold.”

That’s probably a good point.
location with me. My wife and I rode over to the alleged site.