Newly Discovered Meteorites from the June 1998 Casa Grande, AZ Fireball   
         Discovered Feb10,2013 by Sonny Clary, Rob Reisener & Frederick Stephan


Sonny Clary Collection


For almost 15 years the search has been on for meteorites produced from the spectacular fireball near Casa Grande, Arizona.

Excerpt from the Tucson Citizen  Jun. 16, 1998

Kring, head of the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory’s Meteorite Recovery Program, and a crew of scientists yesterday began a series of surveys for meteorites that will be conducted throughout the summer.

He and his colleagues have determined that fragments of the meteor – if it didn’t completely burn up during the explosion – could be anywhere within a 100-square-mile area between Casa Grande and Gila Bend. For the surveys, he has selected several sites near the center of the possible impact zone.

The first survey was of a square-mile area of lonely, creosote-covered desert near Casa Grande.

Kring picked the site with help from the public. Callers from all over the state who gave their eyewitness reports of the meteor’s flight (stacks of pink message slips are on Kring’s desk) helped him narrow the location.

”Without the public phoning in their observations, there’s no way we would have known where to begin our search. Their assistance has been invaluable,” Kring said.

Kring hopes to find at least one part of the meteor. Then the team can expand the search from that spot.

The meteor grabbed the public’s attention at about 9 p.m. June 1998 when it hurtled through the sky and then exploded, producing a brilliant bluish-green and white fireball visible throughout Arizona and in parts of New Mexico and southern California.

Feeding the public’s intense interest is famed Tucson meteorite collector Robert Haag’s offer of a $5,000 reward for the first fragment found – $10,000 if the piece weighs more than 2.2 pounds.

Kring and his colleagues estimate that the meteor was between the size of a football and a desk before it exploded     Excerpt from the Tucson Citizen  Jun. 16, 1998

Early one morning in February, I sat in my office contemplating what to do for the day. I received an invitation from a friend to go meteorite hunting in Arizona. This invitation was the same weekend as the Tucson meteorite and gem show. While I had not made plans to attend the show this was an opportunity to hunt meteorites and attend the show. Rob Matson and Marc Fries of Galactic Analytics have done some outstanding work tracking fireballs which ultimately helps in the recovery of meteorites. It was their work that helped lead to the discovery of meteorites from the Casa Grande fireball in 1998. I later learned

that Robert Ward helped triangulate the area in which Galactic Analytics focused their


The first day in Arizona we hunted for part of the day but were not able to make any finds. The next day I walked around the gem show to say goodbye to my friends before heading off home to Las Vegas. Something kept telling me that I should return to the field and take another look around for meteorites. Since the weather was beautiful I decided I could hunt for 4-5 hours and still make it home that night. I asked a couple of friends (Rob Reisener my hunting partner and Fredric Stephan a meteorite enthusiast) to join me for a few hours in the field.

We headed into the desert and hunted for about three hours. In the course of our search we noticed several backpacks, water jugs, burlap sacks and strange boot covers made from carpet and fabric. I had seen the boot covers before. The Border Patrol call them “carpet walkers.” Illegal immigrants use the carpet scraps to conceal their tracks as they move through the border area. We hunted for several more hours oblivious to the dangers that surrounded us. While walking through a wash we noticed tire tracks with several sets of accompanying footprints. After a full day of hunting in the field, we headed back to the cars. Rob stopped suddenly and commented “I can’t believe it. We found one.”  The three of us knelt down to get a closer look at the meteorite. We were all amazed.  We wondered if this could be from the fireball that was witnessed 14 1/2 years ago. We took some photographs and GPS locations before heading in. As we neared our vehicles we noticed three BLM Ranger trucks racing into the desert in the direction we had come from. We wondered what was going on.

I delayed my trip back to Nevada and hunted by myself the following day as Rob and Fredric were not able to join me. I headed out  into the desert and began to grid the area. About a mile away, I noticed a vehicle parked by some trees. It looked like a BLM truck so I walked over to say hello to the occupant and  to explain what I was doing in the middle of the desert. I told the Ranger that I was looking for meteorites from the Casa Grande fireball. I took time to learn about Arizona gun laws before traveling into the state. I decided to verify the information with the Ranger. He confirmed that Arizona is a right to carry state. He suggested that I carry my weapon on my side rather than in a backpack. That way it would be more easly accessed. He warned me that there were violent drug traffickers operating throughout the area. Law enforcement had witnessed high traffic drug smuggling in the past month. He told me that some of smuggling teams consist of 8 to 9 men carrying large burlap packs loaded with marijuana, etc. He said the team’s lead man carries a semi automatic rifle in case they encounter people. Here is a link to the types of dangers close to the area.

By now he had my full attention. Before we parted I asked for one of his cards and contact information. As I explored the area I heard someone running down the nearby wash. He was so close I could hear the sound of hard breathing. The thought of an AR15 ran through my mind. I stopped and listened to verify what I was hearing. About the same time the ranger started heading down the road in my direction. I explained that I had just heard someone run away and that I could hear dogs barking in the distance. Tracks in the dirt showed me where the man had been laying in the ditch watching me for the past 30 minutes. The Ranger headed off to look for the man. Later I came across a sleeping bag. As I continued negotiating the washes I came across a large burlap backpack filled with nine smaller backpacks. I assumed these were used to carry marijuana due to their large size. I headed in a new direction to get away from this area.

The weather was changing, a large thunderstorm approached but I continued to hunt knowing that I would get soaked from the rain. I decided to head back towards the car because it was getting late in the day. I had about an hour hike back to the car and about 45 minutes of daylight left. I noticed a small white bone on the ground. I could see an old weathered backpack with canned food nearby. I came across more white bones. At this point it still did not occur to me that these could possibly be human bones. The storm was intensifying and it began to  drizzle.  As I continued on I came across a scapula. I realized that what I was seeing could be human remains. The farther I walked the more bones I came across including a scapula with the humerus, radius and ulna attached. I knew these were human remains. The smaller bones that I saw most likely were carpals and tarsal (foot and hand) bones. I GPS’d the location and prepared to call the Ranger that I had talked with earlier in the day. As I was reaching into my backpack for the phone I noticed a large white object off to my right about 40 feet away.

001 136g

This meteorite has been classified  as a H5,S1,WO By

Alan Rubin Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics University of California Official name Indian Butte

   The second witnessed fall, historic Arizona event,  Indian Butte