[meteorite-list] Geologists to Name 'New' Impact Crater in Montana after Havre Couple

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 14:22:53 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <200706112122.OAA11972_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Geologists to name "new" meteorite crater after Havre couple
Annette Hayden
Havre Daily News (Montana)
June 11, 2007

Two geologists from Washington traveled to north-central Montana last
week after an accidental discovery of what they believe is a "new"
meteorite impact crater, located just southeast of Thornhill Butte. The
Havre Daily caught up with the two St. Martin University students at
Havre's Fifth Street Grind and Short Stop Thursday. The discoverers were
on their way to a local laundry to dry their clothes, drenched in the
previous day's rain, before heading back out in their home-built buggy,
"the Mule" designed for rugged terrain. Joe D'Alelio and Gabriel
Mainwaring of Shelton, Wash. Said they had been using Google Earth to
locate fossil hunting grounds when "dumb luck" led the satellite view to
scan over a formation familiar, yet very exciting. "We zoomed in and saw
it had the form of a meteorite impact crater," D'Alelio said. "We
checked with the USGS (United States Geological Survey) and there was no
record of it. The only one they have is south of the Missouri River
about 200 miles. This one is located north of the DY Junction (Highways
66 and 191). You can see it from Highway 66. We loaded up the Mule and
headed out Monday and camped when we got to the crater. We studied the
rim, the bowl and surrounding area and took samples." Much like Daniel
Moreau Barringer, who proved the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona in
1902, D'Alelio and Mainwaring said they had not spent a full day before
they knew the crater had been caused by meteorite impact. "It's about a
mile wide, rim to rim and the sandstone layers are upside down,"
D'Alelio said. "The white is on top from the impact. You can measure the
red sandstone to see how thick it is and it tells you the age. We are
guessing it hit between 10,000 to 50,000 years ago, which is relatively
new. "We collected samples of the rocks and we'll take them back to the
University of Washington to analyze. We will be looking for basically
two things. First is the presence of iridium, an element only found in
meteorites. The second thing is when a meteorite hits the ground the
heat and pressure cause what is known as 'shocked quartz.' It changes
the crystalline structure, so we will check for that. Then we will call
the USGS and name the crater "Bender Crater," for Les and Karen Bender
(owners of Havre's Bender Wild Game Processing)." D'Alelio and
Mainwaring had completed their site research Wednesday and thought to do
a little site seeing around the area before heading home, when they
found the Mule's catalytic converter had become disengaged from the
exhaust pipe. It was Les and Karen Bender who became their rescuers. "We
tried to fix the Mule with a tin can and a hose clamp," Mainwaring said.
"Some people stopped and we asked them where the nearest town was. We
showed them our photos and pointed out where the crater was. Les and
Karen said they had driven by there thousands of times and had never
seen it, but once we pointed it out they could see. "We told them we had
to get going, but then the Mule wouldn't go. The catalytic converter was
still leaking. The Benders ended up towing us all the way to Havre, 96
miles. They fed us dinner and let us sleep in their home for the night.
My wife is having a baby in September and Karen even gave me a baby
blanket she had made. They were a real blessing to us." D'Alelio said
"They were so fantastic to us, a real testament to the people of
Montana, Gabe is planning to move here now. He's going to go home and
convince his wife. And we decided if this crater proves out, we Are
going to name it Bender Crater in honor of them. Les even bought the
parts to fix the Mule. They were just amazing to us." D'Alelio and
Mainwaring said they planned to do a little gold panning in Landusky
then scope out another possible crater site, before returning home
today. "We will defiantly let you know the outcome of the research,"
they said. "We can only say it is a possible impact crater at this
point, but we feel certain and we think there are probably several more
around this area, but we don't want to say where just yet." Meteorite
craters pull in tourists There is something about human beings' total
lack of control over space and its affects on Earth that inspires great
curiosity, and in turn tourism. One example is the Barringer Meteorite
Crater (also known as "Meteor Crater") is a gigantic hole in the middle
of the Arizona sandstone desert. The rim of smashed and jumbled
boulders, some the size of buildings, rises 150 feet above the level of
the surrounding plain. The crater itself is nearly a mile wide, and 570
feet deep. The crater, first proven in the early 1900s to have been
caused by a meteorite crashing into Earth, is today a major tourist
attraction. The Meteor Crater Visitor Center includes displays on the
never-ending process of impacts and collisions in the solar system; an
interactive learning center with 24 hands-on exhibits; a theatre, gift
shop, two restaurants; gardens; and offers tours of the giant crater
formed thousands of years ago when a giant fiery rock slammed into
Earth. Along with Montana's Dinosaur trail, visitors may also in the
future tour the meteorite craters once thought responsible for the
dinosaur extinction. Dinosaurs, meteors and life today In 1902, Daniel
Moreau Barringer, a successful mining engineer, heard about the crater
in Arizona. When he learned that small balls of meteoritic iron were
randomly mixed with the ejected rocks of the crater rim, he immediately
concluded that the crater had resulted from a meteorite impact. If the
meteorites had fallen at a different time from the time than when the
crater was formed, they would have appeared in separate layers from the
ejected rock. Barringer presented his impact origin theory of the crater
to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia in 1906 and 1909. His
evidence included a cross section of crater rim showing overturned rock
layers. For years people involved in the historical sciences believed
terrestrial impacts were something that only happened in Earth's very
early history. In 1980, Nobel Prize winning physicist Luis Alvary and
his colleagues published a paper in "Science" magazine, arguing that a
cosmic impact had led to the extinction of dinosaurs. Alvary rested his
case on large amounts of the meteorite element iridium being present in
geological layers dating back to the time dinosaurs vanished. By 1990,
most astronomers accepted that craters on the moon had been caused by
impacts of space debris and not by volcanoes as once thought.
Astronomers Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker and Dave Levy discovered a new
comet in the Earth's solar system in orbit around Jupiter in1993. Tidal
forces of the large planet caused the comet to disintegrate over the
next year and astronomers observed the fragments proceed around the sun
then head back on a collision course for Jupiter. Between July 16 and
22, 1994, fragments bombarded the visible surface of Jupiter causing
fireballs 500 times the size of Earth to leave huge scars on Jupiter's
southern surface. There are about 180 meteorite craters identified on
Earth's dry land to date. While most cosmic debris disintegrates before
ever entering Earth's atmosphere, the Jupiter attack proved that
meteorites are not just a thing of the past. (Editors note: References
utilized in this article, include The Morien Institute
(www.morien-institute.org.) Meteor crater(www.meteorcrater.com) and
Barringer Meteorite Crater (www.barringercrater.com).
Received on Mon 11 Jun 2007 05:22:53 PM PDT

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