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Credit: U.S geological Survey

Apr 13
, 2007
Hole in the Ground

Central Oregon has two craters roughly aligned East-West and about 10 kilometers apart that have geologists guessing.  But how reliable are the guesses if geologists exclude the only explanation that can account for the wide spectrum of geologic scars on other planets and moons?

Pictured above is the more perfectly formed "Hole in the Ground" crater. (The other, "Big Hole", is about 10 km to the west, less defined, and slightly bigger and deeper). One geologic survey of “Hole in the Ground” measured a floor 150 meters below and a rim 35 to 65 meters above original ground level, with a diameter from rim to rim of about 1.6 kilometers. Geological estimates of dating range from 13,500 to 100,000 years ago.

The two holes in central Oregon are not particularly dramatic, just two minor illustrations of a widespread dilemma faced by geologists. One account of “Hole in the Ground” says: "Although it closely resembles a crater caused by a meteor strike, it is thought to be the result of volcanic activity simply because it lacks the metal fragments found in meteor strikes". In other words, there is no positive evidence for the volcanic interpretation, just a deduction from a prior theory that sees no other alternative.

In these pages we have contended that craters on other bodies in the solar system that are universally assigned to impact events are, with few exceptions, a result of interplanetary "thunderbolts". "Hole in the Ground"—and innumerable counterparts around the world (sometimes interpreted as “maars” produced by the interaction of rising magma with groundwater), should be examined with that idea in mind. In fact, the crater is situated in a region that electric theorists have identified as some of the most spectacular electrical scarring on Earth (a subject of coming Pictures of the Day).

Testing the electrical interpretation model would be simple and eminently feasible. Like Meteor Crater in Arizona (which Wallace Thornhill identifies as a superb example of an electrical crater–complete with nearby sinuous rilles) we should find evidence of fulgurites (glassified soil caused by lightning) and/or shocked minerals beneath the crater or in the walls. Finding a solid crater floor with core samples under the fragmented material inside the crater, and matching core samples taken from the same depth but outside the crater should confirm the continuity of the strata. This would eliminate any possibility of the crater being produced by a volcanic mechanism.

Just as the planet Mars has a region with giant "volcanoes" and a colossal canyon, the electrical theorists point to similar scarring on Earth, but on a much-reduced scale. Electric scarring proponents contend that the study of Mars' surface relief can tell us more about craters, volcanoes, and gorges—even the Grand Canyon—than the centuries spent studying the Earth. The ancient “gods of the thunderbolt" have much to teach us.

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David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Steve Smith, Mel Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
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