National Geographic : 1952 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine II slang, I "sweated out" those hours at the transceiver, and for two good reasons. One was that I wanted news of the plane. The second was that the radio showed we were in the midst of a magnetic storm which would play havoc with magnetometer readings on that all-important portion of the east rim. Radio reception could not have been worse. About 5 o'clock the magnetic storm passed and reception became crystal-clear. Soon Fort McKenzie came on the air to announce: "The Canso is here!" That was the first information I had of the whereabouts of the big flying boat, which had been delayed 24 hours in attempting to reach Museum Lake Monday, as previously scheduled. I chatted with Captain Allard across the 350 miles and promised to provide him with weather reports in the morning for the last leg of his flight to our camp. Then came the climax of the day and the entire expedition. At 9 o'clock Keefe and Cowan staggered into camp, almost spent with fatigue. Their happy faces told the story. Last-minute Success Between 5 o'clock and 7:30 they had run the magnetometer over the close grid of sta tions which they had prepared in the morn ing. The survey had defined the anomaly we had hoped would be there. Positive evidence at last! The anomaly in dicated an area elliptical in shape and elon gated east-west between the two highest peaks on the crater's rim. From the shape of the underground mass and the character of the magnetometer readings, it is highly improb able that it can be any ordinary body of rock. The most likely explanation, I believe, is that here lies a concentration of fragments from the exploded meteorite which were hurled for ward with tremendous force and buried deep in the granite of the rim. Besides our positive evidence from the mag netometer survey, we had accumulated an impressive store of negative evidence, invalu able in eliminating other known natural causes as the agents responsible for the crater's origin. There is ironclad proof that volcanic action was not involved; the rim and corrugated barrens are definitely not ex plained by any rain of debris from a volcano. Everything points to the fact that a terrific blast raised the whole region bodily. The action of advancing and retreating glaciers would not produce such an effect, nor leave such a symmetrical rim protruding in the wastelands. Subterranean erosion likewise fails to account for our geological phenomenon. Even before we obtained our magnetometer evidence, the process of elimination system- atically scrapped these alternate theories. Someday eventually someone may find meteoritic fragments or droplets on the sur face of Chubb's wide, encircling plain. Until then we must rely on the weight of the mag netometer evidence, the striking similarity of the crater to other proven meteorite scars, and the overwhelming absence of geological clues that Chubb could have had any other origin. Meanwhile, I am quite satisfied that the expedition achieved what it set out to do. Tuesday morning at 8, our incoming Canso reported by radio. Captain Allard's voice sounded crisply from the receiver. "Doc, the crater's in sight. We'll be down in 15 minutes." Craterland Hostile to the End As good as home, we thought. Or almost as good. But we reckoned without this hostile land. It evidently was determined to extort a last full measure of toil, sweat, and irritation be fore letting us go. A high north wind was blowing as the amphibian came in. Off our campsite the lake was so rough that the pilot dared not ven ture too close inshore for fear of holing his hull on the rocks. He anchored some distance out. Our canoes would have been swamped if we had attempted to ferry all our gear out that far, battling extremely choppy water and the wind. Captain Allard sought a more sheltered spot. Irony of ironies, he found one in a cove close to the original campsite we had quit 10 days before because it was so windy. All day the six of us, reinforced by Cap tain Allard and one of his crew, portaged our equipment two miles over the boulders in trip after trip to the protected beach from which it was ferried out to the flying boat. The weather record for the past week, fog, rain, snow, sleet, was so bad that the pilot and I agreed we must take off by evening and head south. To speed departure, some equip ment was abandoned in a cache on the shore. At 6 p. m. the last bag came aboard. Quickly the canoes were hauled in and dis assembled. The engines roared, the Canso climbed up off Museum Lake, banked grace fully, and pointed its nose south. Our thoughts were already on the com forts of civilization to which we were return ing, but our eyes were held by the stark beauty of Chubb until it was lost in the re treating wastelands. Monarch of all the known meteorite craters in the world, it had given us a bad time until almost the end. All agreed, however, that its challenge was more than worthy of the expedition's best efforts.