Clues To Creation
Space rocks buried in midwest soil give valuable information to scientists.
He may be looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, but at least Don Stimpson has an extra large metal detector.
As owner of the Kansas Meteorite Museum, he's searching a six-mile stretch of Kiowa County known for "Brenham Meteorites", named for the little town of Brenham once located here, the site of a huge meteor explosion.
"The idea is this all came in at one time, maybe 20,000 years ago, and it probably started glowing over Colorado, the western border of Colorado, and burned thru the atmosphere, broke up. It would've been a massive event," Stimpson explains.
Finding the meteorites, now buried several feet under, is still a slow process.
"The deeper objects give you a more characteristic signal, a kind of gradual rise and fall," Stimpson says.
When they get a signal Stimpson and his crew of volunteers really go to work, first by verifying something is down there.
They take turns digging, driven by their curiosity.
"When you hear that first scritch when the shovel hits that metal, it gets your blooding pumping. It's like a present, you don't know what you're going to pull out. Really exciting," says volunteer hunter Brett Whitenack.
Today they hit pay dirt.
Back at the museum, it weighs in at just under 39 pounds, and while it may look like any other rock, once the meteorite's cleaned up it can be sliced to reveal the crystals inside.
Each segment will sell on the internet for up to $100.
Still, it's not profit that has them hunting for more, it's a fascination with the unknown, a close encounter with outer space.
"They've been out there billions of years, and they've traveled millions of miles, and they happened to fall on our Earth, and we get to hold them," Whitenack says.
Stimpson has found 139 meteorites over the years.