I made a discovery!
We were out with the maps again, and we passed the tree where Bob had shown me the mal. I pointed it out, and we went over. The tendril had decayed away. I told Sergei I wanted to dig in the area; he nodded and walked off with his map and pen. I grabbed a spade from the Jeep and got to work.
The ground around the tree was too hard to dig except in one area. I dug about ten inches. When I didn't find anything, I squatted down and took a drink. I scanned the area. About forty yards in front of me and to the left, I saw what looked like a heat haze. I stood to get a better look. I couldn't see it from standing. I squatted back down. Still nothing. I swayed from side to side. Found it. There was only one position from which the haze was visible. I pulled out my radio and got Sergei.
He took ten minutes to get back to where I was. He came over and squatted next to me. I leaned as far away from him as I could and still see the haze, and showed him where to look. 'Remarkable' was all he said.
He pulled out a pair of binoculars, looked, then passed them to me. You couldn't see the haze through the binoculars. He told me it was a great find, that we'd study it. We stayed there for the rest of the day experimenting. We've marked the observation point with spray paint. We're going back tomorrow to see if it's still there. This could be the topic of my next paper.