[meteorite-list] Finding Meteorites In Nevada - NOT AS EASY - Than You Think

From: Robert Verish <bolidechaser_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:06:15 2004
Message-ID: <20021114181459.58100.qmail_at_web80311.mail.yahoo.com>

"...their find will mark the fifth recovery of space
rocks in Nevada."

Fifth?? Hah!!

"Majuba Meteorite"

?????? (I suppose when they decide to report this one,
it will become the "sixth" Nevada meteorite;-)

"More than 150 meteorites have been found in New
Mexico and almost 300 have been found in Arizona....",

Wow!! 300 meteorites from AZ! There appears to be a
huge backlog on reporting meteorites from Arizona.. ??

"So why have only four confirmed meteorites been found
in Nevada? The state's rugged topography and sparse
population mean fewer people are looking in fewer
accessible places, Kring said."

Why does Kring say "four confirmed meteorites" found
in Nevada? I know some people who be offended by that.
But, he is right about it being much harder to find
meteorites in that state's terrain.

Yet, about the "fewer people", no. There are very
MANY people searching quite regularly in that state.
Not just the large number of us on this List, but
there is a large percentage (per capita) of locals who
are very "meteorite-aware" and are actively hunting.

Bob V.

[meteorite-list] Rocks From Heavan - Finding
Meteorites In Nevada May Be Easier Than You Think
Ron Baalke baalke_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov
Thu, 14 Nov 2002 08:59:17 -0800 (PST)


Rocks from heaven
Finding meteorites in Nevada may be easier than you
Mark Vanderhoff
November 13, 2002

It's been five months since a retired Reno couple
found two rocks experts believe might be meteorites.
If the rocks pass a test this week at the Lunar
and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Ariz., their find
will mark the fifth recovery of space rocks in Nevada.

That's not many finds, considering a meteor probably
hits the ground here
about once every two years, said Keith Johnson,
director of the Fleischmann
Planetarium in Reno. But meteorites kind of look like
every other rock in
Nevada, so outdoors enthusiasts may have walked by
quite a few while
exploring the state.

"There's probably a lot remaining to be found out
there," he said.

The four Nevada meteorites on display at the
Fleischmann Planetarium on the
University of Nevada, Reno campus may resemble dark
chunks of basalt or some
other volcanic rock to the layman. Those with some
geologic knowledge might
suspect something unusual, however, if they pick one
up for closer

Many of the meteorites found weigh more than the
average rock found on the
earth's surface because they are made of nickel-iron,
a heavy metal.
Thumb-like impressions in the rock caused when
weaknesses burn off during
descent might also arouse suspicion.

Gordon and Patricia Cave, the couple who found the
potential meteorites,
thought something was unusual when they uncovered one
June day two heavy
rocks with a "stainless steel" color.

Stumbling upon meteorites

The Caves consider themselves desert rats, fans of the
rugged, dry mountains
and valleys in Nevada. They also consider themselves
amateur gold
prospectors, a hobby that has yielded them "about
enough gold to fill a
tooth," Gordon said.

Earlier this year, their friend David Davis, a UNR
geologist, suggested they
try searching for meteorites. First, they searched
with metal detectors
around Fallon, to no avail. Then they tried a spot
northeast of Sulphur.
First, Patricia found one. Less than an hour later,
Gordon found another.

"It looked like a good-sized gold nugget, all beat up
from being in the
water," Gordon said.

They knew it wasn't gold, though, because it was too
metallic and shiny.
Maybe it was slag, metal waste from welding, they
thought. Or maybe shrapnel
from one of the World War II bombing exercises
conducting in the region.

The Caves brought the rocks to Davis, who examined
them and ran some tests.
Davis, thinking the rocks could be meteorites, brought
them to Johnson at
the planetarium.

People bring rocks to the planetarium several times
each year, Johnson said.

"Usually people have been in the desert, hiking or
looking for gold," he
said. "They're always apologetic. They say they feel
foolish for bringing
them in, and I have to tell them 'No, you're not.'"

In May 1999, for example, Harold McCormick of Carson
City discovered a meteorite while rock hunting near
the Majuba Mountains east of Winnemucca.
McCormick brought the Majuba Meteorite, as it has come
to be known, to the planetarium, which sent to it to
the Arizona lab. That meteorite is now on display at
the planetarium, a gift from McCormick.

Rocks from the sky

Meteorites come from planetary bodies such as
asteroids, moons or other

While most come from asteroids, some have come from
Mars and the Earth's
moon, said David Kring, an associate professor at the
University of Arizona
in Tucson and researcher at the Lunar and Planetary

By learning about the gradual evolution of the solar
system from these
samples, scientists obtain clues about the gradual
evolution of earth, he
said. Asteroids may have brought the ingredients for
life on earth with
them, Kring said.

"We actually find out about the earth's history at a
time when there's no
record of that history on earth," he said.

Most of the meteorites scientists study come from
Antarctica. Since figuring
out 20 years ago that meteorites are easier to find
and better preserved
among the ice and snow, more than 15,000 specimens
have been recovered from

More than 150 meteorites have been found in New Mexico
and almost 300 have been found in Arizona, both nearby
desert states where, as in Nevada, plain old earth
rocks could potentially be confused with meteorites.
So why have only four confirmed meteorites been found
in Nevada? The state's rugged topography and sparse
population mean fewer people are looking in fewer
accessible places, Kring said.

"Meteorites fall randomly over the surface of the
Earth," he said. "You have
as many fall over Nevada as do here in Arizona."

That means people who spend spare time gallivanting
around the Nevada have a
chance at finding those galactic chunks.

"Most meteorites are found by people while hiking,
riding horses or while
digging in their back yard," Kring said.

How to find a meteorite

Here are some features to help identify a potential

o A black or brown surface, often marked by thumb-like
impressions, but
  without pores or hollow vesicles.
o The rock is heavy for its size. This may be a
nickel-iron meteorite.
o A metallic silver interior.
o The rock is unlike other rocks in the area.
o The rock attracts a magnet or deflects a compass
needle, showing
  magnetism. This may be a nickel-iron meteorite.

Sources: Keith Johnson (Fleischmann Planetarium) and
David Kring
(Lunar and Planetary Laboratory)

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Received on Thu 14 Nov 2002 01:14:59 PM PST

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