REGINA (SNN) -- Geology detectives in Saskatchewan might have made two important discoveries this summer.
And, as it usually happens for members of the multi-university partnership Prairie Meteorite Search, the finds have come from unexpected places.
When farmer Ken Wiggins heard that field researcher Nathan Seon was coming to talk about meteorites with locals near Wiggins' home base of Manor, he figured there wasn't any harm in having Seon examine an odd-shaped depression that had been on the farm as long as anyone could remember.
"I wondered about it when I first took a look at it, whether it could possibly be an impact site," Wiggins said. "But there was really no big hype about meteorites at that time so, basically, it was there, it was a curiosity, but it was also a handy place to put some rocks."
Wiggins bought the land 35 years ago, and had used the strange hole -- about six metres across and 1.8 metres to 2.1 metres deep -- for dumping rocks he picked off the field. When Seon saw it, he knew it might be something special.
Both Seon and Martin Beech of the University of Regina, who helps co-ordinate the Prairie Meteorite Search, note the chances of the site actually being that of a meteor impact are low.
"It's one of those things," Beech said. "As to whether it is really a true small-impact crater, it's not that it can't be, but it's certainly a low probability until you really sort of look into it in much more detail than has presently been done."
But if the hole does turn out to be the final resting place of rock from space -- and there is a possibility -- the find would be significant.
"What would be intriguing would be to actually have such a structure and then if one can also find meteorites associated with it," Beech said. "That would be pretty much unique within Canada, I think it's fair to say."
The investigation is now at a standstill. Wiggins backhoed out the rocks dumped in the hole. Now, the researchers must find time to go through the rocks and see if any of them actually are meteorites. So far, Wiggins has found three rocks with some properties associated with meteorites, but Beech, who has seen photos, says it's safe to say those aren't meteorites.
But another stone turned into the Prairie Meteorite Search is actually very likely a meteorite. Four or five fist-shaped meteorites land in Saskatchewan every year. One hasn't been identified in three years, and only 14 have been identified in total over the last century, Beech said.
This potential meteorite -- brought in by someone who found it almost a decade ago west of Davidson -- is currently awaiting chemical analysis. A presence of nickel alloy needs to be identified before it can be confirmed.
The Prairie Meteorite Search, led by Beech along with professors at the University of Calgary and the University of Western Ontario, has been scoping the Prairies for meteorites for the last seven years, during which time more than 10 new meteorites have been found.
The hope is that by providing information to rural communities, those who regularly spend time in fields will be able to identify and report potential meteorites they come across.