Methane-air mixtures can ignite as a result of sparking or rubbing of materials, particularly by impact involving light alloys and rusted steel where an exothermic thermite reaction can occur. This report reviews the published literature and describes a new method utilized by the Bureau of Mines for studying the processes occurring during collisions of light metals with rusted steels. The method involves measuring the spectra of sparks and explosions in methane- air mixtures using a photodiode array. Initial results obtained using magnesium and aluminum alloy 6061-t651 projectiles striking rusted steel are reported. These results indicate that the continuous parts of the spectra show a larger intensity for incendive sparks compared with non-incendive sparks, with the largest relative change in the higher energy, ultraviolet region. An unexpected shift of the intensity maximum for the continuous parts of the spectra towards the infrared region was observed for the more incendive sparks. Evaluation of rusted steel samples with electron microscopy, energy-dispersive x-ray spectrography, and auger electron spectroscopy after they had been impacted by aluminum alloys indicated that aluminum was transferred to the steel in the form of islands that became larger as a function of increasing projectile velocity.