Dec 22, 2017 I Brett Tingley

Mystery Crater and Broken Windshields on Canadian Highways May Be Meteorites

Police in Thunder Bay, Ontario received several calls last week after residents heard and felt a large explosion overheard that was strong enough to rattle their homes. One resident even reported seeing a bright flash overhead at the time of the boom. As police searched the surrounding area, they found an unexplained crater in the snow beside Highway 61. Fragments of rock were found in the crater, leading some scientists to believe that the crater might have been caused by a small meteorite left in the wake of last week’s Geminid Meteor shower.

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Not quite a dinosaur killer.

Stephen Kissin, a geology professor at the nearby Lakehead University, told the local Thunder Bay News Watch that while the mysterious crater could have been caused by a small meteorite fragment, the rock which fell into the Earth’s atmosphere was most certainly much scarier:

It was almost certainly larger than what we saw here because of the loud detonation and the shockwaves people reported. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who did see it. It was, however, over a sparsely populated area and late at night, and a cold night as well, so perhaps people weren’t about.

Because Thunder Bay sits on the shore of Lake Superior, it’s likely that any larger fragments could have ended up in the water. The smaller samples which were collected are being analyzed under electron microscopes in an attempt to determine their composition and origin, but the tests are complicated by the fact that gravel and other roadside debris is mixed in with the potential meteorite fragments found in the crater.

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Some of the samples believed to be fragments of the meteorite.

In a somewhat similar story, several drivers in Newfoundland recently got the shock of their lives when "unidentified objects" smashed their windshields and windows while they were driving. The incidents were all several miles apart in different townships. Could these be further fragments of a meteor which exploded over central and eastern Canada? It's possible. Given the many unexplained booms and fireballs in the sky which have increasingly common phenomena in 2017, is it time to wonder if the threat from near-Earth objects has become much more serious than we are being told? The U.S. government has recently begun preparing an emergency response plan for the event of possible strikes, while NASA is testing methods of redirecting potentially dangerous asteroids and meteorites. What’s really going on overhead? Do we really want to know? One thing is certain: Santa Claus better keep an eye out next week. He could be in for a bumpy sleigh ride.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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