When asteroids, planetoids or meteoroids enter Earth's atmosphere, they become meteors. If they, or fragments of them, actually hit the planet, they become meteorites. That rarely happens. However, about two weeks ago, a 10-ton meteorite did crash into Russia's Ural Mountains in the Chelyabinsk region and land in a lake. The shockwave shattered windows, shook buildings and sent close to 1,000 persons to the hospital. The last such hit was in 1908 when 2,000+ square kilometres in Siberia were devastated by a meteorite.
We naturally wonder whether such a thing can happen in Canada, particularly in Nova Scotia. Though such an occurrence should not be high on our list of fears, in March, 1870, a meteorite did hit Nova Scotia near the entrance to Bedford Basin.
Acadia University scientists have been studying an elliptical impact, 10-metre deep, meteorite- crater, discovered in the 1980s at Bloody Creek Reservoir on South Mountain, NS. They are exploring the theory that several catastrophic meteorites, 12,000 to several million years ago, collided with what is now NS. This area appears to be the site of multiple meteorite impacts. In addition, there is an undersea meteorite crater about 100 kms off the South Shore.
Much more recently (August 2012), Halifax/ Dartmouth residents heard a thunder-like boom and saw a bright green-tailed object hurtling through the sky over Halifax Harbour. Within moments, people as far away as Yarmouth heard the boom and saw flashing bluish lights. It is believed this was a meteorite; however neither the crater nor the meteorite has been located.
The 386 pound Manitou Stone ( Iron Creek Meteorite), found in the 1800s in Alberta, is believed to be Canada's largest meteorite. It was very precious to the indigenous peoples of northern Alberta who believed that its relocation would cause war, disease, and the demise of their buffalo herds. Missionaries in the 19th century did relocate it to an Ontario mission, and the fears of the native people were unfortunately realized. The stone is now in the Royal Albert Museum and there are discussions about repatriation and establishing ownership.
Jacqueline Warlow, a retired educator, lives in Dartmouth. Mother of three and grandmother of six, she is a freelance writer and a "People With Tales" storyteller.