Crop Circle Science 101

The mysterious phenomena of crop being flattened in patterns that range from simple circles to gigantic elaborate works of art has been observed since at least the 1600s and in crops all around the world.  Contemporary crop circle research began in the 1980’s when they started appearing en masses, most commonly in English crops.

Crop Circle near Bradbury Castle in Wiltshire. It was found to be a representation of Pi and is now used as our OpenMinds Production logo (image credit: Lucy Pringle).
Crop Circle near Bradbury Castle in Wiltshire. It was found to be a representation of Pi and is now used as our OpenMinds Production logo (image credit: Lucy Pringle).

In 1991, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, two men from Southampton, claimed to have been making all of the crop circles in England. Many have accepted this as the resolution to the crop circle mystery, especially in the United States.  However, many people in the US are not aware that crop circles are still being found in England, and they continue to get more elaborate every year. Doug and Dave are no longer tromping around in the English crops at night, now Dave has passed away and Doug is in his 80’s, but others have admitted to continuing what they call the art of crop circle making.

Regardless of the circles that are made by hoaxers, or artists, there are still many mysteries to the phenomena that have yet to be resolved.  There is the issue of the flattened crops being reported for hundreds of years, and there is also an abundance of scientific data to support that there is more to the mystery than just a few stealthy chaps laying down crop with boards and rope in the middle of the night.

Among the researchers that have shown an interest in crop circles was biophysicist, W.C. Levengood.  He began sampling plants inside and outside of crop circles to look for anomalies and began discovering inexplicable differences.  In order to help gain funding for his work and as an outlet to share his findings, Levengood partnered with John Burke, and Nancy Talbot to create the BLT Research Team.

Over the years BLT has been able to record these anomalies: enlarged nodes, bending at the stems and nodes, expulsion cavities, affected seeds, electromagnetic effects, fused iron meteoric particles, magnetic iron spheres, and clay crystallization.  We’ll take a look at each of these topics, and you can read about these findings in-depth at BLT Research’s website.

Enlarged Nodes

The node is the “knuckle-like” part of the plant. Levengood found that the plants inside some of the circles had enlarged nodes; they looked almost as if they were stretched.  According to Talbott, sometimes the elongated nodes are found in some parts of the circles but not others.  They were also able to reproduce this effect by putting normal samples in a microwave for 20 seconds.

Bending at the Stems and Nodes

Along with elongation of some nodes, they sometimes also bend.  BLT notes that node bending can occur naturally.  For example, when a plant is pushed down, it will begin to bend towards the sun. For this reason, it is important for researchers to know how old the plant is when it is downed, but even taking that phenomena into consideration, plants have been noted to have bends that do not fit this normally occurring pattern.

Even more interesting are bends that found at the stem of the plants.  Typically plants are stronger at their base and more brittle, so one would expect these stems to snap, rather than bend.

Elongated nodes and control plants (image credit: BLT Research)
Elongated nodes and control plants (image credit: BLT Research)

Expulsion Cavities

Some of the nodes of crop circle plants are found blown out, these are called expulsion cavities. It is believed that heating of the moisture inside of the nodes create this explosion, much like a kernel of popcorn popping. In fact, just as was found with the elongated nodes, this effect was reproducible with a microwave.

An expulsion cavity (image credit: BLT Research Team)
An expulsion cavity (image credit: BLT Research Team)

Seed Malformation and Germination Effects

One interesting area of findings that BLT uncovered was the effect on seeds.  Some crop circle plants suffered impaired seed production, while others stopped producing seeds altogether.  The seeds themselves will also appear malformed or visually stunted, and often weigh less.  However, the plants from these seeds have been recorded to grow at an increased rate.

After observing and studying these effects, Levengood and Burke were able to reproduce the effects on the seeds using unusual electrical pulses on normal seeds.  In 1998, they even patented their invention (Patent #5740627). According to Talbott, Burke tried to sell this technology, but at the time there was more interest in genetic manipulation of crop to obtain similar results.

Electromagnetic Effects

Another indicator that electromagnetic forces are at play in the creation of crop circles is associated with the Beer-Lambert Principle, which describes the absorption of EM energy by matter. BLT found that the level at which node elongation decreased in relation to the distance from the center of the circle fit the Beer-Lambert Principle. This means that it is highly probable that an electromagnetic energy is involved.

Fused Iron Meteoric Particles

In 1993, in a crop circle created during the Perseids meteor shower, some of the plants in the middle of the circle were coated with an iron “glaze”.  Under further examination it appeared that meteoric dust had fused and covered these plants, some plants had the material embedded into them.

Magnetic Iron Spheres

After finding these iron particles, BLT began looking at soil samples to find out if this was happening in other circles.  They continued to find the same material, and occasional also found tiny magnetic iron spheres.  In some cases they found that the distribution of these spheres in the crop circle indicated that they were dispersed by a rotating force.

Iron Spheres found in Crop Circle soil (image credit: BLT Research)
Iron Spheres found in Crop Circle soil (image credit: BLT Research)

Clay Crystallization

After listening to a radio show with the BLT research team regarding a crop circle formation in 1996 in Logan, Utah, geologist Diane Conrad decided to test the soil herself.  She had written her master thesis on the effects of heat on clay. Since Levengood mentioned that he believed the effects exhibited evidence of brief bursts of heat, she figured she could test that theory by examining the crystallinity of the effected soil. Her test showed that the soil inside the crop circle did have an increased crystallinity as compared to the control soil taken outside of the crop circles, supporting Levengood’s findings.

Logan,Utah Crop Circle from August 1996 (image credit: Mitch Mascaro/Herald Journal)
Logan, Utah, Crop Circle from August 1996 (image credit: Mitch Mascaro/Herald Journal)

Who or What is Making the Circles?

Levengood has often speculated that a naturally occurring spiral plasma vortex is creating these circles.  Much like a dirt devil, he thinks that these plasma vortexes may occasionally cross the fields spinning the plants and emitting a burst of heat associated with microwave and electromagnetic forces that create all of these effects. Many researchers argue that this could possibly explain the simple circles, but not the more complex designs.

It has even been speculated that there could be a secret maser weapon that carves these designs into the crop.  However, as Talbott points out, this still does not account for the carefully laid down patterns that the crop are found in.

Of course others speculate that perhaps UFOs are the perpetrators.  However, no one has witnessed a UFO creating a circle.  In fact, those who claim to have seen crop circles being made often describe pillars of light, or balls of light creating circles. Even man-made circle makers report seeing these strange lights in the fields.

For now the circles remain a mystery.  However, thanks to the rigor of careful serious researchers, such as those with the BLT Research Team, we are continuing to get closer to an answer.

For more information on the BLT Research Team, visit their site at:

Find more on Crop Circle Plant Abnormalities here.

Find more on Crop Circle and Magnetic Materials here.

Find more on Crop Circle Clay Crystallization here.

Alejandro Rojas

Alejandro Rojas is a radio host for Open Minds Radio, editor and contributing writer for Open Minds magazine as well as For several years Alejandro was the official spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network as the Director of Public Education. As a UFO/Paranormal researcher and journalist, Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating phenomena up close and personal. Alejandro has been interviewed by media organizations around the world, including the largest cable and network news agencies with several appearances on Coast to Coast AM.

Related Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button