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Possible Large Impact Crater In Nevada

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the no-wonder-it's-burning dept.

Space 29

While participating in amateur rocket launches in Black Rock Desert (the site of Burning Man), Ian Kluft noticed rocks with some oddities. Through the Internet he learned the characteristics of impact craters, then found some clues in photographs and Google Maps. Examining the area, he collected samples of rock with impact patterns and other evidence. He found that previous geological puzzles in the region are well explained as impact structures. Volunteers are finding peculiarities in satellite imagery of the area. Kluft presents his evidence here — "Submitted for Study: Discovery of Possible Impact Crater at Nevada's Black Rock Desert." This is a preliminary, six-week effort intended to bring the site to the attention of geologists. Confirmation will take some time and more elaborate tools than his group has.

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29 comments

This just in... Art Bell confirms it (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18277892)

Art Bell, a Nevada legend, has just confirmed that this IS an impact crater, but an impact crater from a UFO! Most importantly, the UFO's occupants are still alive (in human bodies) and will appear on his program to discuss the crash in detail this weekend.

Re:This just in... Art Bell confirms it (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277926)

I love telling people that Art Bell is the name of the guy that is talking on the last track from the Lateralus album from Tool...I think the name was Faaip De Oiad...

I thought he admitted it was a hoax though?

Re:This just in... Art Bell confirms it (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18278362)

It's not Art Bell talking. It's somebody that called his show when they were doing a program about Area 51. Art Bell is supposed to be talking at the end of the call, but that part is not played during the track. I've heard later that the person called in and admitted that it was a hoax. Whether or not that's true, I guess only the person calling knows for certain.

Re:This just in... Art Bell confirms it (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#18281004)

It's an extremely interesting though whether it's a hoax or not given his satellite uplink was lost for 30min when that call happened. That kinda stuff just doesn't happen easily.

Re:This just in... Art Bell confirms it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18278780)

In further comment, Art stated that the occupants were members of the Purple Shroud Cult that killed themselves in an attempt to reach the comet Hale-Bopp (which they believed to be the UFO that Art Bell had claimed it was). Art has used thier return as proof that he is not responsible for their deaths.

Seriously, quote or citing Art Bell, or any of the nut-cases he has on his show, is like citing Jerry Springer for his views on family values.

overhead pictures? (4, Informative)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277982)

Possible Large Impact Crater In Nevada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18278284)

No, it is Nevada.

Hmmm. Rocks... (2, Informative)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277984)

The shocked quartz he found, if confirmed, would be a real good indicator of an impact.

it just had to happen (1, Offtopic)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18278002)

Start the "your momma is so fat, when she was in Nevada..." jokes in 3... 2... 1...

Re:it just had to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18278058)

I swear, if I had the ability to moderate your post you would so get a FlameBait rating...

Re:it just had to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18278462)

Yo momma so fat that when she went to Vegas she really made an impact?

Re:it just had to happen (0, Offtopic)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18278828)

Yo momma so fat that when she went to Vegas she really made an impact?

Bzzt. Thank you for playing. Please, don't try again.

You were beaten mercilessly as a child when you got into "Yo Mamma" fights, right?

Re:it just had to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18279174)

You were beaten mercilessly as a child when you got into "Yo Mamma" fights, right?
Yes. By his mother.

"Yo mamma so hard of hearin' she thought you was talkin' 'bout her."

Re:it just had to happen (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#18297250)

"Your momma's kids are fucking retarded". ......oh yeah, "in Vegas".

Prospecting? (2, Interesting)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18278128)

I saw some show recently where some guy was making a lot of money finding and selling meteor fragments left over from impact in Kansas. I think in that case it exploded in air, but I don't know whether that means more fragments or not.

Re:Prospecting? (1)

rikkards (98006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287230)

I heard about him. I think he was using the money into researching the possibility of exposure to a large amount of meteor fragments may have on organic material. Last I heard he had a large influx of cash from a local wealthy businessman to continue his studies. Further info on this show is available here [imdb.com]

Makin' It Rain...Fire? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18279102)

An LVPD spokesperson said Thursday that Pacman Jones [wikipedia.org] is being held as a "person of interest" in their investigation of the Black Rock Desert impact site.

"Of course, we think it was unlikely that Jones could have been responsible for a massive impact from space that occurred tens of thousands of years ago, but given his record, we thought it prudent to keep an eye on him," noted the spokesperson.

Shatter cones (1)

PerfectSmurf (882935) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279198)

Those shatter cones are interesting. Are there any amateur geologists out there who can tell me if there are other geological structures that closely resemble those? I'm seen many fragments that look just like that in Kentucky, near the town of Hawesville.

Re:Shatter cones (4, Informative)

ikluft (1284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279288)

The references that I found useful to learn about shatter cones are You have to be careful not to assume that any conical rock is a shatter cone. It's something that the shock wave places in the rock at large and small scales. It's like a fractal in that the pattern exists within the pattern at any scales you can observe.

Re:Shatter cones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18282352)

They aren't convincing impact-related shatter cones. They look like ordinary concoidal fractures in a fine-grained and very brittle rock (e.g., like chert).

Also, shatter-cone-like structures (e.g., cone-in-cone limestone) can form by other processes that aren't impact related.

Refer to this paper [univie.ac.at] [PDF file] if you are interested in some other examples and discussion.

It is sort of the same issue with the so-called shocked quartz. Yeah, they are fractures in quartz (maybe), but they don't look particularly like shock lamellae, and you need to view them in a higher magnification microscope using transmitted light (contrary to the article, while a scanning electron microscope would help, an optical transmitted light microscope would be fine, provided it was a petrographic one). It isn't entirely convincing the grains they are identifying are quartz. They might be looking at twinning lamellae in plagioclase feldspar instead, in some kind of volcanic rock. The pictures aren't great, and he acknowledges that.

While the surrounding hills are somewhat circular, the ridge running in from the north (Black Rock Range) is a bit inconsistent. An uplift in the center is fine for a hypothetical crater this big, but there should be a ring-shaped trough around it, and the ridge crosses towards the center without much sign of that.

On the whole, I don't find the evidence convincing, but it is an interesting hypothesis to consider, and it is great to see someone trying to figure out the local geology.

Re:Shatter cones (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18298010)

Remember that a lot of erosion has taken place. The desert floor is not the crater floor. What may be crater floor is on top of cliffs several hundred feet high. Is Black Rock Range higher than the crater floor, or could it have formed due to eroding less than the surrounding area? Or is the crater so old that tectonic folding has compressed it east-west (making it elliptical and raising Black Rock Range)? Invite a geologist to dig around.

The shape bothers me... (3, Insightful)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279270)

I'm not a geologist, but the fact that the crater is described as being oblate -- 30x40 miles -- puts it out of the vast majority of impact craters, which are circular; it takes an impact at a very low angle (under 10) to get significant distortion of the crater. Interestingly, if you look at the map of the crater location [kluft.com] and compare it to a map of the previous eruptions of the supervolcano hot spot now under Yellowstone [usgs.gov] (larger image here [usgs.gov] ), you could also draw the conclusion that it was the crater from an eruption of the hotspot around 18-20 million years ago. The violence of a supervolcano eruption compared to a normal eruption could account for the presence of shatter cones. Comparing this site to the other known calderas from that hot spot.

Re:The shape bothers me... (5, Informative)

ikluft (1284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279398)

Believe me, I checked for that. :-)

An example of a confirmed impact crater which is elliptical is the Sudbury Crater [www.unb.ca] in Ontario, Canada. There are plenty of others. It would just mean that the impactor arrived at a steeper angle than those at circular craters.

Re:The shape bothers me... (2, Interesting)

barakn (641218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18281558)

The Sudbury crater is over 1.8 billion years old, and thus has had plenty of time for tectonic forces to deform its shape. According to this site [hu-berlin.de] the crater "was affected by orogenic deformation that led to shortening of the Structure by large-scale thrusting and folding." It was probably circular when first formed. The thing about low-angle impactors is that they have to pass through more atmosphere than a impactor on a vertical trajectory, and are thus more likely to be destoyed in an airburst, like the Tunguska event in Siberia, or skip off the atmosphere, like the event over the western U.S. in 1972. Of course the Black Rock crater, if it exists, may also have started circular but stretched into an ellipse by normal faulting in the area.

Re:The shape bothers me... (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18282494)

Just ignore the playa haters.

Re:The shape bothers me... (3, Interesting)

ikluft (1284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18280066)

More info on the Yellowstone/Newberry hot spot tracks can be found with this search: http://www.google.com/search?q=yellowstone+newberr y+%22hot+spot+track%22 [google.com]

That isn't as clear a picture as the image you found would indicate. Research found by that search show the hot spot tracks for the Yellowstone WY and Newberry OR calderas appear to trace back to a common unexplained origin around the Owhyee Plateau on the OR/NV border.

Also note that even the meanest volcano can't produce enough pressure to cause shatter cones in rocks. If the pros confirm them, it would mean the only possible causes are an impact or a nuke.

Yellowstone..interestin..greatsaltlake go BOOM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288752)

Take a look at the map shown by that website in the poster's letter. Look at where the hotspot
system is or could reasonably be supposed to be getting a rich supply of water. Not only that, but
the lake is 'going away' at a large rate. Some scientists say this is evaporation, but suppose it is
draining away into the weakend fault ridden crust in the area and getting to the magma chamber. Salt
will be like ice at high temperatures filling and expanding existing cracks and voids. Even ordinary
water is a known exacerbator of unstable fault systems. Evidence of this is plain along the well
studied San Andreas fault cluster in western central California north of San Jose.
        This guy likes to blow itself up every six hundred thousand years, and it has been that long
since it last had a tantrum.
        Those Mormons in Salt Lake City better start praying REAAALL hard lest their city become a modern day
Pompeii. You editors take notice, the lives you save may be your own if you and yours leave this place... .......NOW!! Evacuations do not work...look at Katrina and Rita...and Utah has few roads.

Stop the presses! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18279382)

This is amazing news. You mean to say that long ago the Earth was struck by meteors and those meteorites left craters? This is ground breaking news (no pun intended). I think most people thought that the Earth had a antigravity field that repelled all meteors. Now that we know the desert has been struck with meteors, scientists can finally settle that age old argument!

Here's some more news...the moon actually *might* have been hit by a meteor at one time. Its not certain...but what we thought were previously alien saucer landing pads might actually be craters from those impacts. I think its too soon to make any claims though. We need to wait for someone to see it in Google Moon.

Other hypothesis? (1)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283470)

I'm not a geologist so I largely don't know what I'm talking about, but I am from northern Nevada and the region has some very unique geological features. The Black Rock Desert was part of a very large lake at various points in the past, and is in a very seismically active region. Does anyone know to what extent other factors could also explain the evidence described in the article? To the layman (me) he seems like he's really stretching a couple ideas, so is this really a likely scenario?

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