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No. 70: Jul-Aug 1990

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Natural gas explosion?

February 28, 1990. Nowata, Oklahoma. On this date, residents of the Nowata area heard and felt an explosion. Its source was unknown until W. Mitchell checked to find out why Double Creek had backed up. He found a scene of curious devastation, which was then linked to the earlier explosion.

"The explosion blasted up large shale rocks, some estimated to weigh more than a ton, and filled about 150 feet of creekbed with shattered stone. Trees were blown down and the creek was partly blocked.

"The water level upstream from the site is 3 to 4 feet higher than below, although water is flowing under the rocks. .....

"'It looks like a giant mole went all under the ground,' Mitchell said, ...'There is no telling how big a hole is under there. You can hear water falling. Gas was bubbling up all along the bank. In one place the water was shooting up a couple of feet yesterday, like a fountain, but it has gone down now.'

"Large pieces of shale landed 20 to 30 feet from the creek bank, mud was blown outward from the explosion and pieces of shale as large as a big tennis shoe were found as much as 200 feet from the creek."

(Smith, Charlotte Anne; "Nowata Creek Blocked after Apparent Explosion," Tulsa World, March 4, 1990. Cr. P.A. Roales.)

Comment. A similar, though more violent, natural gas explosion occurred in 1890 in a river bed near Waldron, Indiana. See ESC4-X3 in the Catalog: Anomalies in Geology. For ordering information, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #70, JUL-AUG 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987