Copyright - M.Bandli - Historic Meteorites
First rule in hunting a new strewnfield: start where the meteorite was found. The home of the SUV window smasher.
As fate would have it, the morning the Garchinskys discovered the "vandalism," they also found the culprit rock and placed it on a table under the eves of her home. This would be the only Grismby meteorite that did not experience the harsh weather that followed the fall and is the only pristine sample in existence.
Fragments of the SUV smasher. The main stone was being studied by UWO.
Later we found the UWO team hunting a school field with some new toys. UWO had this custom magnet bar constructed to comb fields for meteorites. The bar basically articulates itself to the terrain and contains many neodymium magnets to attract any potential meteorites.
First success! Mike farmer finds the main mass of Grimsby near the road. All the hunters join in for the celebration. Clockwise from bottom left: Rob Wesel, Patrick Herrmann, Mike Bandli, Jim Strope, Roman Jirasek, Mike Farmer.
Farmer's main mass being officially recorded by UWO.
Rob enjoying an delicious apple on Puddicombe Farm. The scenery in the strewnfield was beautiful. Note the Niagra escarpment in the background.
The bird blasters kept us on our toes. They were put in place to scare birds from eating the grapes. The random "shotgun blast" was enough to drive you nuts.
ANOTHER ONE! As we were crossing a ditch, I stop and see Rob staring at a rock. I looked at him and started screaming "YOU FOUND ONE MAN! YOU GOT ONE!" After 3 days of hunting and low spirits, Rob Wesel finds a complete Grimsby stone. It was steaks and lobster for dinner that night.
14.5 gram individual in-situ. Just as it arrived from space.
The UWO recovery team comes to document Rob's find. From left to right: Mike Farmer, Dr. Alan Hildebrand, Dr. Peter Brown, Jim Strope, Ellen Millie, Rob Wesel.
Mr. Jim Strope. We investigated a mysterious broken ceiling panel of glass which occured the evening of the fall. It was only a few blocks from the Garchinsky home. But what caused it? We searched heaven and earth in that greenhouse and didn't find a single meteorite.
THE GRIMSBY METEORITE HUNT
On the evening of September 25, 2009 a large fireball was witnessed over a vast area southwest of Toronto. With any good fireball report, I began the arduous process of mining data and pouring through Doppler radar data. The fireball was witnessed from Toronto all the way to New York and initial reports were somewhat vague. This left a large area spanning many hundreds of miles and a lot of doubt.
Two weeks after the fall, I was pleasantly surprised to see a full report and press release by the University of Western Ontario's Department of Meteor Physics. The fireball was captured on seven of Western's SOMN all-sky cameras. This precious camera data allowed Western to extrapolate the orbit and entry angle of the meteoroid and provided projections for a likely strewnfield. I felt a burst of adrenaline when I realized that their projections were in line with an anomalous target on a Doppler radar image I had pulled out of a tracking station in Buffalo, NY only a week before. The Doppler target shared a directional movement and intensity that was consistent with a debris cloud
I immediately called my good friend and hunting partner Rob Wesel at work and told him to start clearing some days off in case a meteorite was found. Compared to the Ash Creek Doppler returns, this one was comparatively weak in reflectivity and small in size. Coupled with the fact that the area was over 2000 miles away across the country, we both agreed that we would not go unless a meteorite was found.
Only a few days after UWO's press release the first stone was found. The press release did exactly what it was supposed to do: educate the local population about what happened and what to look for. A local Grimsby resident, who had the windshield on her SUV smashed in on the evening of the fireball, read the press release and realized that the black rock that had smashed her window might be a meteorite. She was right.
The SUV stone was enough for us to go. We learned from the West and Buzzard Coulee falls that it advantageous to get there as early as possible, so without hesitation Rob and I booked flights to Buffalo for the following morning.
After talking with Mrs. Garchinsky, we learned that the meteorite not only hit the window, but bounced off and impacted the garage door. Detail below.
The Grimsby fireball is one of the most documented fireballs in history. Despite that, a little over 200 grams of material is all that was recovered. Rob's find would end up being the last find of the trip. I believe the low recovered weight is consistent with the weak Doppler return. Coupled with the difficult terrain and often tall grass, Grimsby was a real challenge and we should all be happy that this much material was recovered. It also proved that both Scientists and Meteorite Hunters can work together and share data with great results. We are happy to report that Rob Wesel's stone will be going into the University of Alberta's collection.
Please visit UWO's Meteor Physics Site: