Case File Status: Information Case Only;
No Formal Investigation by The Black Vault
This case was sent to The Black Vault for ideas on what may have happened. Along with the case, a ton of scientific data was sent over, as tested by various labs and scientists. It was decided, that the best course of action may be to post everything online, and collect a “community feedback” session to gather ideas. Everything related to the event, and analyses, are below.
To submit your thoughts, feel free to CONTACT The Black Vault.
This case file begins with the final report by Nicholas Reiter, a scientist at a solar research facility and the director of an anti-gravity technology group in Toledo, Ohio, before he passed away in 2013.
The witness “SD” was put in touch with Reiter after his encounter for analysis. His report is below, which offers a good overview of the case with the primary analysis. Additional information is below.
Analysis of an Unknown Glassy Substance Found in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 2004
N. Reiter – 29 January 2012
On Thanksgiving night, 2004, a farmer in Lancaster County, PA, hereafter known as “SD”, witnessed an unusual explosive light event near his home, over an adjacent field. In the days following, SD examined the field soil in the vicinity of the event however no visible disturbance or alteration was evident. Approximately one year later, after the field had been turned, SD discovered an unusual black glossy “rock” at the site of the light event from the year before. Over the course of the next few years, SD had a variety of experts look at the material he found, and one round of compositional analysis was performed by meteorite identification specialists in Canada. Other professional opinions were tendered by local community college faculty. The material was determined to not be a match to any known meteoric composition however it did not closely resemble any known iron or steel industrial slag either. SD continued to consult with both engineering professionals as well as meteor and UFO researchers about the matter. In late 2011, by way of Barbara Becker of the Missouri Investigators Group, I was placed in touch with SD, and discussed the matter with him. SD was generous and supplied me with about 30 grams of the black obsidian-like material, for any analysis I could either perform or facilitate.
In November and December of 2011, I performed physical and chemical testing on pieces of the sample, as well as arranged for SEM and EDS analysis to be performed.
Much information was obtained, and is presented here in a compiled form. However at the time of this reporting, the ultimate nature of the material in question remains unknown.
The Light Event:
On Thanksgiving night, 2004, SD had stepped onto his back porch to get some air after a long day. As he scanned the clear sky, an amber colored star-like light glided over, at an apparently high altitude. SD at the moment was struck by the unusual color and movement however felt that it had likely been a meteor or a satellite. He returned inside for a few minutes, and did some quick checking on-line to see if any meteor showers had been predicted for that evening, SD returned to his back steps to scan the sky once more.
Suddenly a short distance away, a brilliant white fireball of light approximately 15 feet across exploded. The blast of light was completely silent, and appeared to be at or very near ground level, over the field adjacent to SD’s home. The white burst collapsed into a flicker, and then all was dark once more. SD was convinced a meteorite had landed in his field. The sky was otherwise clear, and so it did not seem to be possible that the light burst was a lightning event.
Over the following days, SD walked his field examining the location of the light burst. He had anticipated finding a crater, or some fused or burned region on the soil surface. However no trace of any disruption could be found.
In November of the next year, SD had not thought of the light event for some time. However one day, after the soil of the field had been turned, he found himself wondering if anything from the 2004 event had been plowed up. He wandered out to the location for the light burst, and circled around, scanning the ground as he went. At first, he found nothing unusual however on a return pass SD saw a large black shiny object on top of the plowed earth.
The slightly curved piece of black rock-like material was about the size of two fists placed together. SD carried it back to his house, and the quest to uncover the nature of this material began. See PHOTO A.
SD’s primary suspicion was that the light explosion and black stone were meteoric. He eventually found a meteorite identification lab in Canada that agreed to run Fusion ICP mass spectroscopy on some of the material. As the primary interest of the lab contacted was to identify and catalog meteorites, their involvement was short lived, after it became apparent that SD’s material did not match any classical meteoritic composition. It was discovered that the material was primarily SiO2, Fe2O3, and also contained oddly high levels of Zn (zinc) and Pb (lead).
The following is a summary of the Fusion ICP findings:
While the Canadian analysis provided a “zero’th order” look at the rock, a sizeable percentage – roughly 18% – of the material composition was not accounted for, due to the constraints of Fusion ICP analysis. What was this missing component of the unknown material?
When I received the samples of SD’s stone, this matter was still in question, as well as the essential identification with (or not) any known terrestrial mineral or form of industrial slag.
As analytical resources were being lined up, I personally was able to confirm a number of physical and chemical properties of the sample material. See PHOTO B.
Initial Physical and Chemical Testing:
SD related to me that he had determined early on that the black stone material was attracted moderately to a magnet. This was a key observation.
When I received the sample pieces, I began a series of very basic examinations. From my notebook:
Approximate density of the material (simple Archimedian test) ~3.1
Approximate hardness of the material (scratch testing) ~6.5 on the Moh’s Scale
No fluorescence in visible wavelengths under long or short wave UV.
The material was indeed attracted to a magnet, though not isotropically. A region of slightly lighter color and coarser texture exists on the original material in a way suggestive of a surface or crust zone. One of the sample portions provided contained a small area of the “crust”. The attraction of this piece to a magnet, through the crust zone appeared attenuated.
Using a thermocouple, torch, and strong magnet, I was able to establish that the material appeared to have a Curie temperature and hysteresis of magnetic attraction – with force disappearing at about 150C and re-appearing at about 80C.
The material was not visibly attacked by HCl, HNO3, or aqua regia.
A Fluke multimeter was used to establish that the material actually appeared to possess an electrically conductive nature. Between random points on samples, electrical resistance values of between 8K ohms and 400 K ohms were found. The “crust” region appeared to have a higher resistivity.
A very thin and small flake of the material was examined with a high intensity light source, to determine the color of transmitted light. The thin cross section (a few microns) appeared greenish. Another thin flake appeared violet.
A small portion of the sample was heated with a torch to around 1000 degrees C on a ceramic fixture. No deformation or vitrification was noted, thus implying that the melting temperature of the material is over 1000C.
SEM and EDS Analysis:
Several smaller chips of the material sample were taken to the local university Physics Department, for some basic SEM and EDS analysis.
Two primary objectives were kept in mind:
Could the missing 18 to 20% of the material composition be confirmed and identified?
Was the material a true glass (amorphous) or did it have a micro-crystalline nature that would in turn allow meaningful X-ray diffraction analysis?
Wide area low resolution and high resolution views with the SEM disclosed that the surfaces examined were (except for minor inclusions discussed below) without any crystal or granular nature, up to the meaningful limit of the microscope. Thus the bulk material could be accurately called a glass, and it appears fully vitrified. See PHOTO C below:
This photo disclosed a set of interesting complex dendritic forms embedded in the glassy undifferentiated background matrix. We eventually found references describing these forms as being micro-crystals of iron oxide, and they could be considered as minor inclusions.
EDS analysis also confirmed our prediction that the initially “missing” percentage of composition was carbon. See PHOTO D below:
EDS additionally was able to specify more accurate figures for the % composition of zinc and lead in the sample material. We find evidence of zinc content up to 5% atomic and lead to around 1% atomic maximum.
With the added knowledge of the sample material provided by SEM and EDS, could we be more certain in our considerations of whether or not the unknown material resembled any industrial slag form? A literature search was made across mining and metal refining archives, for compositional profiles of typical slags. Slag, of course, is a cross-disciplinary term, and requires specification of the essential metal or alloy being processed.
Slag variants investigated include, iron, steel, zinc, and lead.
http://ibm.nic.in/slagironandsteel.pdf (Note from The Black Vault: Now a broken link)
Given the range of material constituents found by both the ICP and EDS methods, one could presume that the general “industry” that would potentially generate a slag resembling SD’s sample could be deduced. For example, iron and steel processing generally is intolerant of the presence of any observable amounts of zinc or lead.
We discover, however, that in zinc and lead processing, the presence of high amounts of carbon is nonexistent.
After our literature search, we can conclude the following:
- Iron and steel slags are highly variable in composition, and may easily contain amounts of SiO2, CaO, and FeOx that might match SD’s sample. However iron and steel slags do not contain significant amounts of Zn and Pb. They also likely do not contain as much carbon as SD’s sample.
- Lead and zinc processing slags are also variable in composition, and may easily contain the amounts of these elements as found in SD’s sample, as well as FeOx and SiO2. However they do not contain carbon.
It is our opinion that the closest “man-made” material match to SD’s samples is zinc slag fuming residua. However the presence of a large amount of carbon appears to invalidate this.
In summary – the black glassy stone-like material found by SD is not a comfortable or workable match to any easily identifiable man made industrial metallurgical slag.
For now, little more can be said about the mysterious material found by SD in 2004. It does not match classical composition profiles for meteorites. It is not a likely match for any one of a number of industrial slag types. The general form of the original “rock” as-found is itself suggestive of some artificial process – a distinct and differentiated crust along one side, and hints of a rounded profile for part of the piece. It is unknown.
It is what I personally have come to call, after years of examining Fortean residua, “naggingly unusual”. It is not a UFOlogical smoking gun piece of evidence. It is an enigma.
One other topic needs to be addressed in this case. Mr. SD has been extraordinarily open and detailed about the chronology and peripheral elements of the event – elements that would promise a deeper understanding and that “aha! moment” if only we could understand their context.
SD shared his opinion that one of the most curious aspects of his finding of the black stone was the “presentation”. On the day in 2005 that he felt compelled to wander out into his field, to the site of the light event from the year before, SD found it highly strange that as he initially walked past the epicenter, the black stone was not there. It was only after he circled around and returned on his footsteps through the light event spot that he saw the black rock sitting on the turned soil. An eerie sense of “here you are, take it” came over him. In the world of silent light balls, UFOs, and crypto-artifacts, these sorts of nuances are not uncommon, even if they may never be understood.
In late 2004, Mr. SD of Lancaster County, PA, had an intersection with the high unknown. A year later, he was gifted a souvenir for his troubles. While we may never comprehend the origin of the souvenir, or how it related causally to the light ball explosion, it does remain, and is tangible evidence of a mystery.
In closing, I would like to thank Mr. SD and his family for providing me with the opportunity to explore yet another vector of the unknown. Gracious thanks also to Ms. Barbara Becker of the Missouri Investigators Group for connecting Mr. SD with me, and for her excellent initial documentation of SD’s case.
Additional Comments From The Witness
Would like to clarify a couple of things. The bright ball was more than 15 feet. I would estimate between 20-30 feet with a bright 6-8 foot wide beam coming off an angle to the ground and then scattering of electric. It was less than 100 feet from my back door. I estimate the ball was maybe 20 feet off the ground.
I live in Cochranville, PA, about 30 min from Lancaster, PA.
I do believe that this object connects with the phenomenon that I witnessed. I was obsessed with this finding something for many months until corn was planted. Then as soon as he cut it down I was back out there. Once I found this object the search obsession was over. Every year since, in October thru November, I get the urge to find answers about this. Usually send emails to see if any “supposed UFO researchers” want to look at this.
Photos of the Object
Please note: These are the highest resolution photographs available.
Note from witness: I went to AlienCon in Baltimore a couple years ago and brought the object. It had broken into two pieces. I had it in my car in the summer and it got very hot. I tapped with a hammer and that’s when it split in two pieces. Very clean break if you’re look at where it broke it is as if they are two separate pieces that melted together. So back to AlienCon, I was leaving and I put objects in a plastic grocery bag 🤔. Stupid I know. I put it in back seat of car, got home saw that bag had hole in it and the biggest piece was gone. It’s mind boggling why I would have done that. And now I’m not even sure where the other piece is. I cared for this thing for 13 years, then go to a convention and lose my prized object. I’m so mad at myself for that. Now I need to search my house for the other piece. I knew where that thing was always. Kept it in same spot always ready to show anyone. Now 🤔. I have no answer for it.
Energy Dispersive Spectrometer Analysis
For the EDS breakdown for each corresponding image, download THIS .ZIP FILE to get all the corresponding data to the scans below.
Smithsonian Microscope Image of Unknown Object
Analytical Report by ICP and ICP-MS Services
Prepared for: Mr. Nick Reiter Date Reported: May 8, 2012
All results are reported as percent abundances.
Thoughts by Nicholas Reiter in 2012
All in all, between the Canadian analysis, the SEM and EDX that I had done at University of Toledo, and the IR that Phyllis is doing – that covers most of what I think can be done. Any further analysis would be say isotopic ratio work, but there you are talking about $600 or so, and that’s with a fellow I know doing it. Plus, said fellow has to have a sample that can be dissolved in an acid. Your stone material is resilient to dissolving, and so someone else would have to do it, who has ICP fusion. XRD would be of no use, since we now know it is an amorphous glassy material, not crystalline.
The EDX pretty much filled in the question left by the Canadian lab in” what is the missing 20 – some %” by saying its probably in the zinc, lead, and quite a bit of carbon. We found the material is mostly glassy. Phyllis may be able to find some proof that the carbon portion is or isn’t from a melted and superheated polymer. That should be neat.
I have not yet found a match to any form of common industrial slag. It resembles zinc fuming slag a little, but not really.
Download the Rock Analysis [.xlsx files]
University of Toledo, Instrumentation Center, Analysis