The title of this post should be pronounced with an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent like ‘Its not a tumor’ from Kindergarten cop.
I was aimlessly wondering cornfields and pastures near the high mass area of the newly plotted fall line when I happened across a strange crater looking hole in the ground. The hole is approximately 6 feet long by 5 feet wide and 16 inches deep.
My immediate thought was – meteorites don’t make craters, at least not very often (less than 1% of the time) so I was very skeptical right from the get go, but still intrigued. I checked the hole with my metal detector and got some beeps (this doesn’t mean much as I get beeps all over the ground in PA). I stuck some magnets in the mud and they came up with some small magnetic particles (probably magnetite).
It was near the end of the day and I couldn’t find the farmer to talk to him about it, so I decided I would come back another day to follow up.
While I was back home I checked my custom satellite map from July 5th. My thinking was if the hole was visible in the satellite photo it would definitely not be a crater. About 10% of my satellite image was obstructed by cloud cover and wouldn’t you know, this location was under the clouds and not visible. Darn. I turned to Bing Maps next as they have an awesome bird’s eye view feature that shows great detail from a low altitude. There was no hole in the bing image, but I also have no idea when the image was taken. It could be 3-5 years old.
I emailed my satellite contact and asked him what other dates he had maps for prior to July 5th one. He had one from April 2008, so I got that. I checked that map and there was no hole visible in the satellite photo. The hole is 6X5 feet wide so it would have been big enough to show up in the satellite image. It is also located in the middle of a green pasture and it is brown, so it would stick out pretty easily (rocks smaller than the hole show up in the satellite photos, so I know the hole would too).
Here’s the satellite photo from April 2008 15 months before the fall (no visible crater):
I went back up to the site a week later and talked to the farmer. He said he agreed it was a strange hole and he just happened to notice it one day. I asked him when and he said
“I think this past summer, but I’m not really sure it could have been spring.”
I asked him what he thought could have caused it and he said he initially thought it was a sink hole. I asked him if he had ever seen a sink hole like that before or any other holes on his land like it and he said no. I have been on over 100 fields in this area and I’ve seen dozens of holes in the ground, usually from animals like foxes, rabbits, mice and ground hogs, but I’ve never seen a hole like this.
There happened to be an ‘English’ (what Amish people call non Amish people) construction worker named Kyle there on the farm. He drove by the field in a dump truck towing two bobcats while I was running my metal detector and stopped to ask what I was looking for. I told him a meteorite and he started asking a lot of questions. I explained how I had happened across this hole and thought it was odd, but maybe that it was just a sink hole. He said
“I repair sink holes for a living and that doesn’t look like a typical sink hole. Usually they do not hold standing water [because the water seeps through under the ground which causes the sink hole to begin with].” He also said “They [sink holes] usually don’t form on the side of hills. Also the grass would still be in the hole if it was in fact a sink hole. ”
Kyle offered to dig up the hole with his back hoe if I was interested. I told him I would do some research and let him know.
Here are a few more pics:
I’m not saying that this is a crater, I’m just saying this is a really weird hole, in a suspicious location that appeared very close to the time frame of a meteor fall. if you were wondering around the high mass meteorite fall area and happened across a hole like this what would you do?
UPDATE 2009/12/16: I sent this post out to the meteorite hunting and meteor expert community and the conventional wisdom and prevailing theory is this hole was caused by animals. Possibly deer that dug a hole at this spot because the farmer left a salt block here, and then the cows made it bigger, or simply a small hole that started and then got bigger due to erosion and the cows walking on it. Due to the size & shape of the hole and its proximity to the trail left by the cow, this seems totally plausible. The only follow up I have is to ask the farmer if he left a salt block at this location at one time or another. Regardless of what he says, this hole most likely was caused by animals. I feel like Dori from finding nemo… “just keep hunting, just keep hunting…”