A few hours later we reached the Dayet Hamada. The scorched plain spread before us like an annealed sea of slag. The sorting process of the surface gravel was completed to the greatest extent. The covering layer of lime- and sandstone gravel was composed of a near inactive desert pavement. This spoke for an old age of the surface.
Although there were single islands of vegetation which told of occasional rainfalls, the largely bright pavement at first glance was suitable for meteorite prospection. But as we soon found out, the many chert nodules weathering out of the bedrock and finding their way to the surface limited our prospects to score on this plain severely. It was evident that this ultra-hard material withstood alteration much better than the limestone itself.
There were mile-long stretches of flat land completely covered with the black flint stone debris. Anyway, we were used to similar surfaces already from the Al Gada, and so we went about our business without complaining.
While the sun was arching across the cloudless Sahara sky we crept along our preset search tracks. At first by crossing the vast plain towards the northwest, and then, as we reached the end of the plateau, we concentrated on an area of approximately fifty square kilometers which was, due to its flatness, perfectly suited for our purpose. The northern part of this new search area was bordered by an unmarked dirt track which ran along the edge of the plateau from west to east.
Repeatedly we crossed our own tracks and those of our second vehicle, while on the display of our GPS an increasingly close-meshed web spun across the map. Unfortunately, and much to our regret, until the evening, we had no cause to add a pair of find coordinates to the display.
Perhaps a hundred times during the day we had stopped to check potential meteorites. Each time the specimen in question had turned out as a terrestrial look-alike. Together with the terrestrial rocks which were flung out of the car window our hopes of finding meteorites once again dwindled away. When I almost threw a small pebble, which I had just shown to Pjotr, through the shut window, my companion and I decided to give up on it for the day. Completely exhausted by our fruitless efforts in the scorching heat we headed for our rendezvous coordinates.
By this time our Swiss friends had aborted search as well and were already busy collecting firewood for the nightly camp from beneath a droughty acacia. We radioed them to join us and without waiting for them to close up, we went straight for the edge of the plateau. There we had located a perfect canyon for tonight’s camp.
We did not get far, however, because Pjotr once again had me stop in order to examine the hundredth rock of the day. Marc took the occasion to stop beside me, and through the open window he suggested an alternative campsite in a shallow Qued on the plateau. While Marc and I were negotiating the significant issue where to stay during the night, Pjotr reappeared and calmly remarked he had “possibly discovered something of interest”. Because Marc and I were still a long way from a mutual consent, we continued on our important matter without paying much attention to Pjotr’s unexciting announcement.
The latter bemusedly gazed a while to and fro between us before he insisted: “I think I’ve found something very interesting.” This had the desired effect. Electrified I catapulted off the seat and followed Pjotr along our tire tracks. Behind us Marc and Roger jumped off their car.
I was prepared for anything, I thought, but nevertheless, what I suddenly saw caught me totally off-guard. Two meters in front of me there was a meteorite that did not only sit embedded in the sediment, something I could have coped with even after six full days of fruitless search, but a meteorite which looked so utterly pristine and without even the slightest trace of oxidation, that it seemed the rock had descended from the sky that very moment.