THE BUZZARD COULEE CANADIAN METEORITE HUNT
On November 20th, 2008, a large meteor exploded over the town of Lone Rock, Canada. It was captured by numerous video cameras and witnessed by hundreds of people. A week after the event, the first pieces were found from what would end up being a very historic event - Canada's largest recovered meteorite fall. At the same time, the area was blanketed with snow, postponing recovery efforts until spring of 2009.
-THE- Buzzard Coulee
The Buzzard Bridge - Be careful - you can fall right through!
After West, Texas, I was obsessed with finding more meteorites. With reports that snow was melting rapidly in Lone Rock, Canada, hunting partner Rob Wesel and I penciled out a week at the beginning of May 2009 to mount a hunt.
Rob picked me up from my house on Thursday eve. We stopped at the store and loaded up on Monster Energy drinks and continued the 18 hour drive to Llyodminster, Canada. Unfortunately, we ran into a long stretch of highway that did not contain any 24 hour gas stations. Rather than risk running out of gas we decided to park the car at a gas station pump until it opened in the morning. Those were some of the longest hours of my life. Being stuck and not able to fall asleep, knowing that you could be picking up fresh meteorites at that very moment. It was cold and I had to start the car every 20 minutes or so to keep the teeth from chattering.
We finally arrived in Lloydminster around 7pm the next day and met up with the landowner of a canola farm that happened to be at the tail-end of the strewnfield. After a brief tour of the canola fields, we began hunting. Within 5 minutes of searching, Rob had found the first meteorite of the trip. It wasn't long before I had found my first, just before dusk.
Cold and getting dark - Mike finds his first Canadian Meteorite
We arrived back at the canola fields early the next morning and began gridding the rows. The neatly rowed canola was pleasantly similar to the cotton fields of West, Texas. Within minutes we began finding meteorites left and right. At one point, we were clocking one meteorite find per every 15 minutes. The only thing slowing us down was the careful cataloging and data collection of each specimen. Every meteorite was photographed in-situ, a GPS coordinate taken, and then registered with our own strewnfield map.
Perhaps the best stone of the entire hunt: a large, perfectly oriented heat-shield with 360 degree radial flowlines and lipping on the back. Shown in-situ with trailing edge up.
Typical Buzzard Coulee meteorites as they appeared in the canola
Here's a first: open door of car to find meteorite!
Another first: meteorite embedded in cow dung.
After a hard-days work it was time for drinks and steaks
Rob and Me with the landowner and his meteorite-mutilating equipment. Sadly, the field that we were hunting was to be tilled and planted the following week. Any unfound meteorites would surely be lost.
Friends of the hunt: Patrick Herrmann and Mike Tettenborn.
A beautiful site: our ongoing strewnfield data loaded with flags. Each flag is a meteorite.
Bagged, tagged, and ready to be cataloged: Over 70 meteorites found by Rob and Myself. It was bittersweet working so hard and finding so many stones, only to leave them all in Canada for export approval, which can take a minimum of six months. We hope to be re-united with them soon.
Another magical life-experience on the books.
One thing was certain - the meteorites that had fallen a whole 6 months before had been nicely preserved by the snow and extremely dry air. The vast majority had minimal oxidation and I was surprised to see so many flow lines - something not typical of H chondrites.
We began noticing a definite pattern in the location and size of stones. The stones grew larger the further southwest we walked and smaller in the northwest corner of the property. There is a large sense of satisfaction being able to see and understand the mechanics of a strewfiled first-hand.
Copyright - M.Bandli - Historic Meteorites