Coso’s Artifact

Coso Artifact : A spark plug found inside a piece of hard clay the 13 of February of 1961 by Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell while seeking geodes near the town of Olancha, California . Mikesell found him by breaking this rock in two.


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  • 1 Description
  • 2 History
  • 3 Currently
  • 4 Analysis
  • 5 Other information
  • 6 Sources


It is more than just a piece of machinery: the sophisticated ceramic body shape, its metal shaft, and its copper components hint that it may be an electrical instrument. It is something that looks like a modern spark plug. However, there are certain characteristics in particular the coil that does not correspond to any known spark plug today.

Small condenser with different materials. The object is about the size of a spark plug . Since the formation of geodes can take millions of years, it is really curious to find something like this inside one of them.


Three collectors, Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell were looking for interesting specimens of minerals – especially geodes – for their gift shop “LM&V Rockhounds Gem & Gift Shop” in Olancha (California). That day they collected a sack of stones in one of the mountains that stands in the dry bed of Lake Owens. This whole region has a history of volcanism that goes from the Mesozoic (granites) to the lava and basalts of the Cenozoic. The youngest rocks, associated with fumaroles, are from the Pleistocene.

One of the stones they collected, originally taken by a geode, was a hardened clay concretion with inclusions of stones and remains of mollusk shells; it was at a height where the lake was supposed to have arrived a thousand years ago. The next day in the gift shop’s workshop, Mikesell cut the false geode with a 25-centimeter diamond saw that he did.

During the very laborious cutting, the blade was completely worn out. Inside the stone he was cutting, Mikesell did not find the typical geode cavity, but a circular section of a very hard white material that appeared to be ceramic or porcelain; In the center of the cylinder was a shaft about two millimeters of shiny, magnetized metal.

In addition to these deposits, the discoverers saw two non-magnetic metallic objects embedded in the bark, which looked like a nail and a washer. Stranger still, the inner layer – disintegrated by time – was hexagonal and seemed to form a covering around the hard porcelain cylinder. Inside, a highly deteriorated layer of copper surrounded the cylinder. A geologist consulted estimated that the age of the outer sediment was at least half a million years old. In a subsequent investigation carried out by Ron Calais, photographs and x-rays were taken showing the interior configuration of the strange object, clearly demonstrating its manufactured nature.

Already in those times the great similarity of the internal composition of the Coso artifact had been observed with a spark plug: copper rod, porcelain cover, washers and thread, and a hexagonal part.


The artifact became popular in the press for bizarre phenomena early in the next decade, and most reviews contain the information provided by the INFO group without digging deeper. In the late 1970s a documentary series, “In Search of…” presented by Leonard Nimoy, dedicated part of a program to Coso’s subject. During filming, the object is said to have been lost and was never heard from again. In 1999 an attempt was made to trace his whereabouts, without success; Of the three discoverers, Lane and Mikesell are presumed dead, and Virginia Maxey is very reserved and declines to comment.


The case of the Coso artifact is unique, because it meets the Fortean characteristics of an OOPArt: almost any hypothesis presents strong objections that make the set meaningless. For starters, if it really is a spark plug and it’s embedded in such an old stone, it could only mean that:

  • A prehuman or extraterrestrial civilization abandoned this component of a combustion engine identical to those that have been manufactured since the beginning of the 20th century.
  • A time traveler carried a spark plug from a DeLorean engine and left it lying as well.
  • The rocks are fossilizing at a much higher rate than science believes, so all the current stratigraphy and chronology of the planet would be questioned. Earth could be much younger than previously thought.

As the piece was only seen by two specialists: the anonymous “geologist” who issued the date of half a million years and Calais, who made the photographs, we will never know the real age of the object. Clay has different shapes and speeds to harden without the need to petrify. It is known that the false geode had a hardness 3 on the Mohs scale, relatively soft (the saw was damaged when unexpectedly hitting the porcelain) and no one made a petrological study of the sample or a paleontological analysis of the shells, which would have dated with more precision the piece.

Really estimating the age in half a million years just because of the apparent consolidation of the stone is something very difficult, hence the quotes that I have put to the geologist. On the other hand Ron Calais was a well-known creationist, and many rigged or accidental OOPArts are promoted by these people precisely to validate hypothesis 3: Fossils do not indicate the actual antiquity of Earth, which is around 4500 years as the Old Testament.

There were components that didn’t quite fit the typical spark plug. To settle the matter, in 1999 the x-rays and diagrams of Calais were sent to several members of the American Spark Plug Collectors Association (yes, it really exists) who by different means identified the object unquestionably as a 1920 Champion spark plug .

However, in the Lake Owens area there were mining prospects (with excavations and galleries) in the early years of the 20th century. It would not be difficult, then, for an old spark plug of some gasoline engine to be covered by mud and sediment -including old shells- and the nodule to be cemented with rust, water – possibly brackish, which would cause the rapid oxidation of the cover iron- acquiring the consistency of a sandstone.

Obviously this is the simplest option, although as the device is missing we cannot know at the moment if the material of the geode is a modern cement or a Cenozoic sandstone, and by means of high resolution scanners define the piece as a Champion spark plug or a contraption Perhaps totally different: either of these two observations would give the whole a mind-blowing twist.

Other data

  • A geode is a “bubble” of rock of variable size within which mineral crystals have formed. These crystals are usually formed with materials dissolved in hot water, which is why they are usually the product of volcanic activity.


by Abdullah Sam
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