El Mirage Dry Lake Clean-up

Volunteers needed to help “clean-up” El Mirage Dry Lake.

The title of this article may mislead you into thinking that I am looking for volunteers to help clean up all the remaining meteorites from El Mirage Dry Lake (well, maybe I am).

Actually, this “clean-up” is really an event where a large group of volunteers come out to El Mirage OHV Recreation Area (twice a year) to help the Friends of El Mirage (and the BLM) with their clean-up and maintenance of the area. The 2014 “Spring Clean-up” was held on May 3rd. The “Fall Clean-up” will be held on October 25th. And from what I have learned from past “Clean-ups”, this is a great opportunity for public outreach (regarding meteorites), and to promote meteorite-recovery to a large group of people (while actually at a drylake).

Because of last years federal government shut-down, the October 2013 clean-up was cancelled. That fact, and the forecast of very high temperatures predicted for the Mojave Desert, resulted in a lower than average turnout (85 volunteers) for this recent May 3rd “Spring Clean-up”. Past turnouts have had as many as 175 volunteers! That’s a lot of people at one gathering all walking about on a drylake, bent over collecting refuse, picking-up metal-debris with magnets, and leveling hummocks with rakes. Ample opportunity for someone to “accidently” find a meteorite. It would only be prudent to have a “meteorite expert” on hand to conduct public outreach and to help identify any possible meteorite finds.

This was exactly what I suggested to the Friends of El Mirage (the coordinators of the “Spring Clean-up”), and much to my surprise I received a prompt reply from the Barstow BLM. Apparently, not only did the FoEM agree with my suggestion, but the BLM agreed, as well, and extended to me a personal invitation to their next clean-up and to “set up an information table and even bring a few samples”.

Ever since a $15 fee per vehicle for entry onto El Mirage was established, I have had no luck in convincing my friends to join me in a group meteorite-hunt at this Dense Collection Area (DCA). But after I reported back to them about this last Clean-up, and how volunteers get a free overnight pass, they are now wanting to join-in at the next Clean-up.
So, if you would be interested in joining us in this outreach effort, but have some questions about what volunteers do, here is an overview of the last Clean-up:

The day started off at the Visitor Center with a breakfast at 7:00AM (a $3 donation is suggested). Then registration started at 7:30, followed by the formation of work crews. By 8:00AM these crews had already headed out the drylake area to begin work. Work crew projects included general clean-up and trash collection, lakebed maintenance, Joshua Tree fence repair, and using magnets to remove nails and other sharp objects from the lakebed and campsite areas.The work crews stayed out until around noon, returning to the Visitors Center for a BBQ lunch that was served at 12:30 and that was followed by a raffle drawing (the 50/50 drawing began at 1:00PM).

So, to recap, Pre-Registered Volunteers receive:
a full breakfast ($3 donation suggested)
a BBQ lunch (donation suggested)
a free raffle ticket (held at lunchtime)
and free permit to overnight camping facilities.

This was a day of good company and good fun, and was a chance to give back to one of the more popular public areas.

courtesy of FoEM

Breakfast starts at 7AM for clean-up crew volunteers.

courtesy of FoEM

On average more than 100 volunteers sign-up for the “Clean-up” which means it will be easy to meet people and make new friends.

courtesy of FoEM

Volunteers from SCTA are eager to remove rocks and small sand-dunes from the racetrack portion of the lake-bed. This mantenance crew knows where the rock-pile is located.

courtesy of FoEM

Clean-up crew on their way back from a work “project” site, returning to the Visitors Center for a much deserved complimentary lunch.

courtesy of FoEM
One of the CORVA volunteers display the magnets that are used for picking up “metal-debris”.

courtesy of FoEM
Here is an example of the kind of metal debris that is picked-up by the clean-up crew with their magnet-devices.

Unfortunately, no meteorites were recovered. Maybe someone will get lucky at the next Clean-up?

courtesy of Jim Tobin (2014)

EMDL 004 is classifed as “W0” which means that it is unweathered! Essentially, it is a freshly fallen meteorite.

This means that relatively little time has transpired since this stone fell,

so, there’s little chance that other stones from this fall having traveled very far from where ever they landed.

They, too, are probably still sitting on the alluvium waiting to be found. Maybe stones even larger than 271g.

Had there been a witnessed fireball event prior to finding this “W0” stone, this would be highly publicized.

Why there haven’t been dozens of meteorite-hunters clamoring about this “fall” & searching hard this area,

is a mystery to me.


CLICK on image to ENLARGE

Google Earth View : of El Mirage Dry Lake – San Bernardino County, CA – showing EMDL-DCA and meteorite find locations.


CLICK on image to ENLARGE

Aerial View : of a wet El Mirage Dry Lake – San Bernardino County, CA – showing many shorelines

Post Script: A spokesperson for the FoEM (Friends of El Mirage) wanted me to mention that, if you are unable to attend one of the publicized Clean-ups, people who want to volunteer to clean up are always welcome at anytime of the year. Of course, you would miss-out on all of the socializing that comes with a “Clean-up”, but you may still be able to negotiate a free overnight pass. If you do go, let us know if you find a meteorite. And Good Luck!


References:

Meteorites with Name = “El Mirage Dry Lake” from the Meteoritical Bulletin: the search results for all meteorites found on “El Mirage Dry Lake, California, USA” – Published in Meteoritical Society – Meteoritical Bulletin, Database.

El Mirage Dry Lake 004 from the Meteoritical Bulletin: the entry for EMDL 004 – Published in Meteoritical Society – Meteoritical Bulletin, Database.

The Digital-Desert website for images and links about El Mirage Dry Lake.

Geology of El Mirage the original geologic history of the Antelope Valley.

Barstow BLM Office the BLM website for the EMDL Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area : El Mirage Cooperative Management Area is now a Fee Area.

El Mirage Days the BLM website for the 2006 “Clean-up”.

Southern California Timing Association the SCTA official website.

CORVA the website for CA Off-Road Vehicle Association.

Friends of El Mirage their official website.

El Mirage Dry Lake, California website for “Interesting El Mirage Facts”.

My previous articles can be found *HERE*

For for more information, please contact me by email: Bolide*chaser

About the Author

Robert Verish
Bob is a retired aerospace engineer living in Southern California, and has been recovering meteorites from the Southwest U.S. Deserts since 1995.
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