This article appeared in MUFON UFO Journal  September 1998


Are circles, landings mutilations related?  

  Crop circle analysis shows

that most are not hoaxes

By Nancy Talbott

Although some instances of the phenomenon known as “crop circles” are apparently created by people, scientific analysis of the affected plants and soils indicates that slightly more than 90% of formations tested have a more interesting—and more complex—causation. The BLT Research Team (John Burke, William. C. Levengood, Nancy Talbott has been systematically studying plants and soils sampled from crop formations in the U.S, Canada, England, and several other countries since 1989, and then comparing these plants and soils to control samples taken at various specific distances away from the formations, but in the same fields.             

The results of this research have been published in two peer-reviewed scientific journals in 1994 and 1995. The 1994 paper1 discussed the plant abnormalities documented, and the 1995 paper2 presented the finding of meteoric iron on plant stems and in the soil. A third paper has been submitted for publication which presents the discovery that observed plant alterations often follow the well-known Beer-Lambert Principle in physics,3 which describes the absorption of electromagnetic energy by matter.

 Williamm. C. Levengood, a Michigan biophysicist with more than 40 years experience working both in industry and at the University of Michigan, does most of the laboratory work. He holds a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Toledo, an M.A. is Bioscience from Ball State University, an M.S. in Biophysics from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. equivalent based also on work completed at the University of Michigan.

Since 1956 he has published widely in main­stream scientific journals, including multiple papers in Nature and Science; holds several patents; and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as several other professional societies. For the past 15 years, in addition to pursuing private research interests, he has worked as a consultant to several seed-growing companies and agricultural concerns.

In recent years the BLT Research Team has extended its inquiry, discovering that many of the plant and soil abnormalities found at crop formation Sites are also present at UFO-trace cases and unusual animal death locations. At the request of Linda Howe several years ago, Levengood agreed to examine wheat and pasture grass samples from a mutilation site4 which had been discovered within 60 ft. of an ovoid area of flattened crops near Garnet, KS. The wheat stems from the flattened ovoid area revealed a massive incidence of “expulsion cavities” at the stem nodes, an effect indicating an internal pressure so sudden and powerful that it literally blew holes through the node walls as the internal liquid in the plant stems expanded.

There were also very significant alterations in the growth rates of seedlings germinated from the wheat seeds taken from plants in the ovoid’s center, with a reduction in seedling heights of -35.8% as compared to the controls. These results are typical of findings continually obtained at crop formation sites, and strongly suggest rapid heating such as would be caused by the exposure of the plants to microwave radiation, as well as exposure to unusual electrical fields.

Although it has been suggested that helicopter downwash might be responsible for the creation of circular flattened areas of crops, Levengood is certain that the effects noted above, as well as the dramatic lengthening of the plant stem node—which was also discovered in this incident—is instead a characteristic of electromagnetic radiation, probably microwave, emanating from the epicenter of the ovoid.   

                        Expulsion cavities, Logan, Utah, 25/8/96. C. 96. BLT Research Team. 

                              Control nodes, Logan, Utah, 25/8/96. C. 96. BLT Research Team.


     Expulsion cavities, Logan, Utah. Top photo shows expulsion cavities in plant stem nodes (barley) sampled along the south radius of a 58-foot circle (the larger circle). Bottom photo shows control nodes sampled 108 feet to the east of the formation. The sample was taken 8-25-96, two days after the formation was discovered. (Photo used with permission of BLT Research Team.)

Cell wall pits enlarged  

When the pasture grasses sampled immediately around the dead animal were examined under the microscope, and the results compared with the examination of the control grasses, the cell wall pits in the plants near the body were found to be enlarged to more than three times the diameter of the pits in the control samples. This finding suggested the same sort of rapid heating believed to be responsible for many of the changes discovered in the wheat samples taken from the nearby ovoid area, indicating a quite possible link between the two events, as well as the need for additional research of similar events.

Since this 1994 Garnet, KS, case the BLT Team has sampled and examined both plants and soils (as well as occasional anomalous substances) at several dozen unusual animal death sites (Levengood prefers the term “bovine excision” Sites) here in the U.S. and in Canada. Several reports5 have been issued which discuss the findings obtained. Much of the work done on the grasses usually present at these locations involves a test6 which looks at specific changes in the cyclic patterns of respiration activity within the plant cells—specifically the mitochondria.

When plants are exposed to increased levels of radiation—in this case microwaves—the mitochondria are often irreversibly damaged, thus altering their respiration patterns. It is these respiration patterns which are monitored and which reveal the mitochondrial damage in plants which have been exposed to unusual radiation. In case after case these altered respiration cycles have been documented in the plants sampled at bovine excision sites. Laboratory simulation, by exposing control grasses to commercially available sources of microwave radiation, produces the same results. Either microwave radiation—or an energy extremely similar—is involved.

  Increased magnetic material  

Additionally, in recent years extensive soil sampling has been carried out at bovine excision sites examined by Levengood. In the crop formation research, soils sampled from within and outside the flattened crop areas have revealed significantly increased amounts of magnetic material mixed in with the soils; this finding, too, has been replicated in the unusual animal death cases, sometimes massively. In a 1997 Colorado case submitted for analysis by Christopher O’Brien, massive amounts of micron-sized magnetite spheres were discovered during microscopic examination, particularly at the sampling site near the head area. The amount of such magnetic particles which might normally be expected to be present is in the range of 0.4 mg/gram of soil, but here a count of 284.3 mg/g was found. This count dropped off significantly in soils sampled farther away from the body, strongly suggesting that highly unusual magnetic fields had been associated with the event.

Although Levengood and the BLT Team’s primary interest has been the crop formation phenomenon, as word of the laboratory results began to reach people interested in other areas, specific requests to examine plants, soils, and unusual substances related to other unusual situations began to come in regularly. In 1995 the “Sightings” TV show, then investigating a number of apparent UFO-trace cases, asked for analysis of plants, soils, and a number of unknown substances sampled at several Israeli UFO cases:7 the 1987 Shikmona Beach incident, a 1994 event, and a grass formation found in early 1995.

Low melting point  

Soil samples from the Shikmona Beach case included a very dark red, almost black, granular substance mixed in with the clay soil. This substance had an extremely low melting point, becoming bubbly under the microscope light, and then hardening back into a black mass of rounded particles once the light had been turned off. Without more extensive geophysical testing, this substance remains a mystery.  

Pure silicon  

In the 1994 circle formation a white substance found at the center of the event and a red coating discovered on the stems and leaves of plants sampled in the circle were both subjected to energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), which revealed that the white crystals were in fact pure silicon, but without the “growth lines” characteristic of silicon crystals which have been thermochemically grown in a laboratory. The red material produced a high iron peak, but in the presence of so many other elements as to obscure it’s identity.

The plant samples from the grass formation at Qadima in 1995 revealed alterations again consistent with exposure to rather prolonged, localized heating, in addition to other changes which confirmed the presence of energetic changes to the plants similar to those observed within many crop formations.

Over the past several years the BLT Team has examined numerous samples of peculiar substances discovered at crop formations, bovine excision sites, and reported UFO-related events. Many of the substances analyzed have turned out to be basically silicates—the most abundant compound on earth. However, the transformation of the silicate materials into highly unusual crystalline forms in these various samples (forms which are entirely uncommon in the published scientific literature of crystallography) is quite remarkable. Earlier in his professional career, Levengood worked for many years with silicate crystals, thus recognizing immediately the uniqueness of many of these samples. The unusualness of the samples themselves, in combination with the curious locations and situations in which they were found, is of great interest.

  Unusual forms of silicone  

In addition to the discovery of pure silicon at the 1994 Israel location (a unique finding, to date), silicone—with highly. unusual external forms—has been discovered repeatedly. Two recent cases include a Netherlands crop formation (Brummen, Holland, 1997) and a May, 1998, apparent UFO-trace case in Israel. An unusual form of a soluble silicate8 was discovered in a 1994 Blame, MN. crop formation which may also be UFO-related, and, quite recently, two extremely unusual silicate substances have been analyzed in conjunction with two separate abductee experiences here in the U.S.

            Analysis of these and many other substances found at crop formations in many countries, at bovine excision sites in the U.S. and Canada, at UFO-related trace cases in several countries, and, most recently, two abduction experiences here in the U.S. are slowly producing a solid scientific database—facts which clearly indicate certain physical commonalities among the various events while pointing directly toward the fact that something very physically real, if as yet completely unrecognized by mainstream science, is “afoot with the cosmos.”  

Control studies  

Control studies are an important aspect of scientific inquiry. In the case of crop circles, the question has been raised as to whether people—armed with planks and boards, or rollers, or simply their feet—might be responsible for the many thousands of formations reported all over the world in the past 15 years or so.

Although the logistics might argue against such a conclusion, this has been the solution presented by most of the media for many years. Agronomists and plant physiologists have speculated that over-fertilization of the crops might be the culprit; and feeding crows, mating hedgehogs, and crazed prairie dogs have also been suggested by a number of highly imaginative individuals. In an effort to examine the more reasonable of these ideas, the BLT Team executed two separate control studies9 which examined the notion that people using both boards and a cement roller might be the causative agency, as well as the effects of 100% over-fertilization on a test crop field.

  Results are clear  

The results were quite clear: manually down­ing crops with boards or cement rollers does not produce any of the plant anomalies reported over the years by the BLT Team. In these control studies the plants did not exhibit any of the typically observed (always at the statistically significant level) changes found in more than 90% of the formations sampled from several different countries. Specifically, these plants from the manmade control formations did not reveal:

1.  grossly enlarged or elongated plant stem nodes;

            2. marked bending of plant stem nodes;

            3  the presence of “expulsion” cavities at nodal points;

4. stunted or malformed seed-heads;

5. markedly significant alterations in seed germination trials (including seeds which do not germinate at all, or seeds which do germinate but exhibit severely depressed seed growth, or seeds which do germinate but display seedling development inconsistent with that which is typical for the species or variety, or seeds which not only germinate but exhibit markedly increased robustness and rate of seedling growth).

There was bending of the plant stems noted, particularly in a young, immature crop, within 3-5 days after manual flattening; this effect is due primarily to gravitropism (the term now used to describe the growth of plant organs in response to gravity; the old term, “geotropism,” is no longer accurate since the effect has been observed in zero-gravity experiments with crops in space). The gravitropism effect occurs much more rapidly than phototropism (the growth of plant organs in response to light), which occurs much more slowly, although in a young crop phototropism may play a role when node bending is observed several weeks after downing the crop. The point here is that moderate node bending does occur, particularly in an immature crop, having nothing whatsoever to do with genuine crop formation energies—and this sort of node-bending is distinguishable from that which has been reported in the BLT Team’s research reports.

  Same results  

Furthermore, in the control study which examined the effects of over-fertilization on field crops, the same results were obtained: none of the basic criteria by which the BLT Research Team identifies genuine crop formations were found—no elongated nodes, no marked bending, no “expulsion” cavities, no stunted or malformed seed-heads, and no significant alterations in seed germination trials.

It was interesting to find that, although farmers have long thought that over-fertilization and subsequent violent weather conditions were the causes of randomly-downed crop regularly found in their fields, not one single stalk went down in the 100% over-fertilized test strip, in spite of several severe storms in the test area during the summer this control study was implemented.

In fact, it has been known for some time that so-called “lodging” (randomly-downed crop with no discernable geometric pattern) is related to the geometric crop circle phenomenon. The BLT Team has done considerable testing of randomly-downed crops,10 both when found by themselves in fields and when found in the same fields as geometric formations, discovering the same basic “energy signature” in the downed plants. The major difference appears to be in the intensity of the energies involved, with the randomly-downed crop exhibiting a greater degree of change than that found in the more visually interesting geometric designs.

Energy complex to blame?  

So, real lodging—downed crop that is due to over-fertilization (which causes over-development of the seed-head and subsequent weakening of the plant stem) and subsequent weather damage—can and occasionally does occur; but this cause of randomly-downed crop is less frequent than is currently recognized. The BLT Team suspects that, much more frequently, the cause of randomly-downed crop lies with the energy complex responsible for the more notorious crop circles.

A few final facts for the thoughtful reader to consider. Patches of standing plants found inside many geometric crop formations, as well as massive areas of standing crop outside the visible formation borders, up to a tested distance of 300 ft. away,11 have revealed both the altered respiration rate cycles and anomalous seedling growth-rate changes already discussed; and these changes in the standing plants (which from a vi­sual standpoint appear to be completely unaffected) are often as severe, or even more so, than the plant alterations found in the flattened crop. This “spillover” effect has also been found in fields with both geometric and randomly-downed crop.

Furthermore, node-length increases in plant stems have been found to decrease as a function of sampling distance away from the epicenter of an event, producing near-perfect linear curves, and in beautiful agreement with the Beer-Lambert Principle of physics (which describes the absorption of electromagnetic energy by matter). This Beer-Lambert correlation has been found repeatedly in downed crops in circular events when they were sampled meticulously enough, and it has also (in 1997, at Salem, Oregon) been found in standing crop on two different sides of a geometric formation12 in which there were many other anomalies present.  

Significant linear correlations  

And, finally, in a 1997 New York state crop formation “ sampled with real diligence by Larry Thomas (one where UFOs were witnessed near or over the field in which the formation was later discovered), very significant linear correlations were obtained by examining the relationship between the amount of magnetite material in the soil and the distance from the epicenters of the sampled circles. The type of linear distribution obtained was shown to agree with the fundamental physics of centrifugal forces on particles suspended in a rotating plasma system. Increased amounts of magnetic particles in the soils at unusual animal death sites have also been found to decrease in a linear fashion with sampling distance away from the carcass.

  The importance of field workers  

Over the last 8 years somewhere in the neigh­borhood of 200 fieldworkers here in the U.S., in Canada, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and Israel have contributed their time, energy, and financial support in the gathering of samples. Without them this research could not continue. There is also a large reporting network of individuals who keep us informed of new events, often within hours of their occurrence. The sampling and reporting networks are growing each year, with new groups being trained in the field sampling protocols; and recently a grant has been awarded BLT to enlarge the geological aspects of the investigation. In the face of indifference from the general media and larger society, this cooperation between people of similar curiosity and purpose, scattered all around the globe, is both essential and very sustaining. We all know that the constantly recited refrain, “there is no hard evidence,” is just an indication of ignorance—there is so much “hard” evidence, and so much more just waiting to be developed, that we’re having a hard time keeping up.


IN AN UPCOMING ISSUE: John Burke (the “B” in BLT) shares evidence that a plasma vortex atmospheric energy system can create crop formations.




1Levengood, W.C. 1994. “Anatomical anomalies in crop formation plants,” Phvsiologia Plantarum


2Levengood, W.C. and Burke, John A. 1995. “Semi-Molten Meteoric Iron Associated with a Crop For­mation,” J. Sci. Exploration (9:2), 19 1-199.

3Levengood, W.C. and Burke, John A. 1994. “De­lineation of Electromagnetic Energy Influencing Crop For­mations,” Lab Report No. 24.

4Levengood, W.C. and Burke, John A. 1994. “Crop Formation Associated with a Cattle Mutilation,” Lab Report No. 25.

5BLT Research Team. 1997. “A Study of Bovine Excision Sites From 1993 to 1997,” Bovine Excision Re­port No. Red-06.

6Levengood, W.C. 1988. “Redox-responsive elec­trodes applied during plant morphogenesis,” Bioetectrochemistry and Bioenergetics, 19:461476.

7Levengood, W.C. and Burke, J.A. 1996. “Crop Formations & Associated Materials, Israel, 1995,” Lab Report No. 53.

8Levengood, W.C. and Burke, l.A. 1996. “Mete­oritic Material in a Minnesota Crop Formation 1994-1995,” Lab Report No. 52.

9Levengood, W.C. and Burke, J.A. 1994. “Study

of Simulated Crop Formations, 1994,” Lab Report No.

27. BLT Research Team. 1997. “1997 Maryland (USA)

Control Study: Gravitropic Responses in Simulated Crop

Formations,” Laboratory Report No. 86.

10Levengood, W.C. and Burke, J.A. 1996. “Crop Formations: Blue Ball, Maryland, USA, 1995,” Lab Re­port No. 51.

11BLT Research Team. 1997. “‘Julia Set’ Crop Formation-Stonehenge, UK, July 8, 1996,” Lab Report No. 78.

12BLT Research Team. 1998. “Geometric Forma­tion & Associated Randomly Downed Crop - Salem, Or­egon (1997), Lab Report No. 97.

13BLT Research Team. 1998. “Crop Formation:

Marion, New York 1997,” Lab Report No. 100.


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