SPACE SCIENCE
Seven New Meteorites Added to New Online Arizona Meteorite Map

David Kring hunting for meteorite debris - Photo by Carlos Urcuyo - copyright UA
By Lori Stiles
Tucson - Sept 12, 2000
Arizona is experiencing a mini-boom in meteorite recoveries, and you now can view a web-based map that shows where the meteorites hit, what they look like and how they're classified.

A clickable map was created by David A. Kring, students Jake Bailey and Ross Beyer, and photographer Maria Schuchardt at the University of Arizona Space Imagery Center.

Kring is director of the Meteorite Recovery Program and new director of the Space Imagery Center at the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab.

Scientists know of 39 meteorites found in Arizona during the past 110 years. About a third of these have been found in the past decade. Seven of those were identified in the past year by the UA Meteorite Recovery Program (MRP). MRP scientists also identified four others that fell outside of Arizona.

The seven new Arizona meteorites are listed in this month's Meteoritical Bulletin. They are named Coyote Mountains, Dos Cabezas, Fish Canyon, Golden Rule, King Tut, Ragged Top and Wildcat Peak.

It's no coincidence that more Arizona meteorites are turning up, Kring says.

"It's simply a matter of explaining to people what to look for," he notes. "We have been making an effort to go out and talk to groups who are likely to find these things, like Arizona gold prospecting clubs, and explain what to look for.

"Plus, media coverage publicizing the finds is generating more searches," he adds.

Kring says the university meteorite recovery team finds one or two meteorites in about every 600 samples submitted for study.

To check if your suspect meteorite might be the real thing, look at the series of tips listed in Kring's on-line booklet, "Meteorites and Their Properties."

These tests will filter out 90 percent of the "meteor-wrongs," Kring notes. If the sample passes these tests, it's time to get an expert opinion. The public can contact meteorite experts through the UA Mineral Museum at Flandrau Science Center, the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab, and Arizona State University's Center for Meteorite Studies.

The four non-Arizona meteorites recovered by the UA team during the past year are one from Roosevelt County, New Mexico, and three from Saudi Arabia.

Tests for an Iron Meteorite: If your sample is unusually heavy for a rock its size:

  1. Does a small magnet stick to the sample, even if you turn it upside down?
  2. Is the surface dark black or brown?
  3. If you file or grind a corner of the sample, do you find the dark surface layer is paper-thin and covers a silver-colored interior? This should be truly silver colored, like polished sterling silver, not just shiny.

Tests for a Stony Meteorite: If the sample is not unusually heavy for a sample its size, but is covered with a black layer of material:

  1. Is a magnet attracted to the sample? Or, if you have a metal detector (a great test!), does it screech as if you had found a metal coin?
  2. If you chip a corner from the sample, does the interior of the sample look gray to brown in color, much lighter than the dark surface layer?
  3. If you chip a corner from the sample, do you see millimeter-size (BB-size) patches of silver colored metal in the rock? Again, it is important that the material truly be silver colored metal, not just shiny crystals. Shiny crystals occur in many meteor-wrongs.

"Don't be disappointed if your sample is not a meteorite," Kring says. "Less than one-tenth of one-percent of the samples that people think are meteorites will have properties just described."

Samples often confused for meteorites are rocky, molten-looking slag from foundries or mines; rocky, molten-looking slag in railroad beds; metal slag from mining smelters; and magnetite nodules, which are produced by the volcanic activity that once occurred throughout southern Arizona.

"LOTS of magnetite nodules occur in the Tucson Mountains and Santa Rita Mountains, or in the Tucson Basin where water has carried them," Kring notes.

Related Links
clickable map
Meteorites and Their Properties
UA Lunar and Planetary Lab
SpaceDaily
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SPACE SCIENCE
Looking For Meteorites On The Saskatchewan Prairies
Calgary - September 11, 2000
 Melvin Christensen of Kyle, Sask. found a strange seven-kilogram 'rock' while cultivating land about 20 years ago. The heavy, black rock piqued the interest of Andrew Bird, a third-year geology student at the University of Calgary, who was hosting a Prairie Meteorite Search "show and tell" on July 3 at the Kyle museum. Bird was examining rocks that local residents thought could be meteorites.
SPACE.WIRE