Obsession Stone was studied by local geologists and rock hounds in 1996, who weren’t sure, but tentatively called it a tektite, rock altered by the heat and crushing impact of a meteor strike. With this assessment, the discoverer of the rock, James “Wes” Hill of Moab, Utah, believed the rock to have value and decided to share it with the public. He soon partnered with marketer Robert Hawthorne. They knew the stone was connected with the Upheaval Dome site in Canyonlands National Park, but wanted more information to assure its value. After contacting scientists from Brigham Young University and University of Utah, they were unable to identify the rock.
Hawthorne went to some of the nation’s leading scholars on meteors. He caught the attention of Dr. William Cassidy of the University of Pittsburgh. Cassidy’s collections from Antarctica account for over half of all meteorites ever found. His writings also earned him the Barringer Award, only the fifth recipient in the last 100 years, at the time. Cassidy had never seen anything like this rock before and had the Smithsonian Institute run a spectrographic analysis. The results only made the mystery deepen; they found compounds in the rock they could not identify. Curiosity over the rock escalated.
At the advice of a scientist from Brigham Young, Hawthorne was guided to the attention of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, co-discoverer of comet, Shoemaker-Levy 9, which famously affected Jupiter in 1994. Shoemaker’s curiosity was peaked so much he visited Hawthorne and took a field trip to the strange deposit of stone to evaluate it. Shoemaker said at the site, “Upheaval Dome is the best example of a deep impact crater on the face the Earth” (1996). Sadly, Dr. Shoemaker died in car accident later that year. Curiosity continues.