The Fireball of August 18, 1873,
near Newark-on-Trent, England.
Etching by Henry Robinson.

Finding Meteorites/Classifying Institutions

Meteorites are exciting to collect and trade, but some
individuals are not content to simply satisfy their collecting
desires by purchasing them from dealers.  Some
individuals actually go out and hunt meteorites. As well,
some meteorites are found by accident, by individuals
who never even think about meteorites.   If you think you
have found a meteorite and want to know if the rock really
is a meteorite, follow the guidelines listed near the end of
this page.  Independent, reputable laboratories are also at the
end of this page and we suggest that you contact one of these
labs about submitting a suspected meteorite for analysis.

Based simply upon casual observation, see if you can tell the
 difference between the following meteorites and meteor"wrongs:"

Here is an easy one.  Tektites are pieces of natural glass which are created when
large meteorites impact the earth's surface.  The released energy literally melts
the surrounding soil.  Which one of these objects is a Chinese tektite?
(scroll down a few lines for the answer)

Correct Answer:  The one on the right is the tektite.
The one on the left is a piece of terrestrial obsidian.

Sample number 2...

 . .

Here is one that is slightly harder (but not too hard).
 Which one of these objects is a stone meteorite?

Correct Answer:  The one on the left is the meteorite.
It is a 67 gram stone from Juanchang, China.  
The one on the right is a piece of asphalt from the

Now this one. . .

Here is one that is harder than the others.
  Which one is the iron meteorite?

Correct Answer: The one on on the left is a piece of shrapnel
from the Sikhote-Alin fall of 1947.  The one on the right is a 
piece of slag (interesting looking, but not a meteorite)!

Now, take a look at the following four images.  Which one is the real meteorite?

Could this be a meteorite?
What do you think?  Nice fusion crust?
Looks metalic to me!
Desert varnish? Gold Basin perhaps?

Well, which is it (scroll down to see the answer)?

Actually, none of these are meteorites!

The specimen at the top left is hematite (iron ore) from Ishpeming, Michigan.

The top right specimen is chromite from Red Lodge, Montana.

The specimen at the lower left is magnetite (magnetic iron ore
- not as common as hematite) from Llano, Texas.

The specimen at the lower right is limonite (commonly found
near the surface in iron ore deposites) from Daingerfield, Texas

Remember, in the field you won't be comparing several
finds and deciding which is the meteorite!

Well, how did you do!

If you suspect that you have a meteorite, first do some preliminary "analysis."
Does it have a dark, oftentimes "glassy" fusion crust as an outer covering?
Meteorites develop this crust as material is ablated off during passage through
the Earth's atmosphere. The presence of such a crust-like material strongly
indicates a meteorite, while the absence of a crust strongly indicates a
meteor"wrong." However, it should be noted that meteoites found in the "hot deserts"
usually do not exhibit a dark fusion crust, due to terrestrial weathering.

Also, because of the iron content, the overwhelming majority of meteorites
respond to a magnet (particularly if it is an iron meteorite!). If there is no pull
when a magnet is placed against the suspected stone, it probably is not a
meteorite.  As well, a true meteorite will be much heavier than a similiar
sized terrestrial rock.

Now, if the suspected stone passes the above tests, it might be a meteorite!
IMCA does not have the facilities to test suspected meteorites but we would
suggest that you contact one of the meteorite verification laboratories
listed below.  

Note: Send only a small (walnut size - if possible) sample(s). Testing may take a month to a year depending upon the backlog of the facility.



Cascadia Meteorite Labratory
Department of Geology
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751
Portland, OR 97207-0751
Telephone: (503) 725-3372
Fax: (503) 725-3025

New England Meteoritical Services (NEMS)
P.O. Box 440
Mendon, MA USA 01756
Instructions and Pricing
Voice: 508-478-4020Fax: 508-478-5104

Dr. Timothy J. McCoy
Linda Welzenbach
Department of Mineral Sciences
NHB 119
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 20560
call before sending sample: (202) 633-1825

Professor J. T. Wasson
Dr. Alan E. Rubin
Institute of Geophysics
University of California
Los Angeles, California 90095-1567

Dr. Denton S. Ebel
Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
The American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th St.
New York, NY 10024

Dr. Edward R. D. Scott
Hawaii Institute of Geophysics & Planetology
School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, HI 96822

Dr. Derek W. Sears
Cosmochemistry Group
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701

Dr. Michael Zolensky
NASA/Johnson Space Center
Mail Code SN2
Houston, TX 77058

Dr. David A. Kring
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
University of Arizona
1629 East University Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85721

Director - Dr. Carleton Moore
Center for Meteorite Studies
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Arizona State University
Box 872504
Tempe, Arizona 85287- 2504
fax 1-480-965-2747

Catherine Nicole Foley
(312) 665-7656
Meenakshi Wadhwa
Meteorite Catalog (pdf - large)
The Field Museum of Natural History
S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, Illinois 60605

Dr. Randy Korotev
Washington University
1 Brookings Dr
Campus Box 1169
Saint Louis MO 63130-4899


Canada - The Prairie Meteorite Search
contact page

Dr. Monica M. Grady
Mineralogy Department
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom

Planetary Sciences Research Institute
Open University
Milton Keynes
Become a Meteorite Hunter

Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle
Jardin des plantes
Grande Galerie de l'Evolution
Paris, France

Dr. Brigitte Zanda
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
61, rue Buffon
75005 Paris, France

Dr. Gero Kurat
Naturhistorisches Museum
Postfach 417
A-1014 Vienna, Austria

Addi Bischoff
Dr. Dietmar Weber
Institut fuer Planetologie
Wilhelm-Klemm-Str. 10
48149 Muenster, Germany
Phone: ++49 (251) 8333465
Home: ++49 (2597) 5258
FAX: ++49 (251) 8339083

Dr. Dieter Stoffler
Museum fur Naturkunde
Invalidenstrasse 43
D-10115 Berlin, Germany

Max-Planck-Institut fur Chemie
Saarstrasse 23
55020 Mainz, Germany

Institut fur Mineralogie und Geochemie
Universitat zu Koln
Zulpicherstrasse 49b
50674 Koln, Germany

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