[meteorite-list] Lake Eyre meteorite 'Crown property', researchers required to hand findings over

From: Carl Agee <agee_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sat, 16 Jan 2016 10:02:48 -0700
Message-ID: <CADYrzhrbvirWq_Ou4jeKtbs73cBKT=6XePNAEKuA2kfhZ1Jj7A_at_mail.gmail.com>

Not to bore everyone, but I'll repost thisexcerpt from Lincoln LaPaz's
(founder of IOM)
"Space Nomads: Meteorites in Sky, Field, and Laboratory". It is as
true today as it was when the IOM was founded in 1944! Also relevant
to this discussion I believe...

"Meteorite hunting, unlike pure mathematics, cannot be conducted with
success solely by publicity-shy individuals comfortably seated in
armchairs. Unlike the chemist, who buys his research materials from
catalogs; the bacteriologist, who brews up his cultures at will in a
laboratory; and the botanist, who finds the objects of his
experimentation in conveniently located greenhouse and herbarium, the
meteoriticist is in large measure dependent on the general public for
the specimens with which he works. In meteoritics, as in perhaps no
other science, rapid progress depends on the intelligent cooperation
of the layman, that fortunate individual destined, because of his
ubiquitousness, not only to witness all meteorites yet to fall, but
also, sooner or later, to stumble upon many of those that have already

Carl B. Agee
President, Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth
Sciences (COMPRES)
Director and Curator, Institute of Meteoritics
Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences
MSC03 2050
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131-1126

Tel: (505) 750-7172
Fax: (505) 277-3577
Email: agee at unm.edu

On Sat, Jan 16, 2016 at 12:04 AM, Galactic Stone & Ironworks via
Meteorite-list <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com> wrote:
> Hi Ian and List,
> Yes, we can all play keyboard king and tell the governments and the
> world how we think things should be done. There will never be an ideal
> world and compromises must be made to keep everyone relatively happy
> (or at least content or apathetic). I agree that nobody's system is
> perfect, regardless of national boundaries.
> Comparing meteorites to collecting baseball cards is disingenuous.
> Rock and mineral collecting is one of the oldest expressions of
> geology. Amateur participation in that field has a long established
> history that has benefited museums and science over the years. For
> some people, meteorites are another rock to collect. For some they are
> research material. For some they are national treasures. Ultimately,
> who "owns" a meteorite? Do we really want some bureaucrat deciding
> that? Isn't this a case where common sense (ha!) should apply? Or,
> call the lawyers and give them a pile of money to figure it out.
> I do not see the kind of rampant fraud and chicanery that Ian is
> talking about. Sure, any marketplace has crooks (some vendors, some
> buyers) and one has to only look at other collectible markets like
> autographs or Tiffany glass to see that fraud is "rampant" there was
> well. It all comes down to trust. If you don't trust the vendor's
> honesty and expertise, then avoid their sales pitches.
> "> I constantly see deception, fraud, ridiculous pricing, items stolen out of
>> countries, governments and scientists disrespected, incorrectly described
>> items, dubious provenance, destroyed samples, tiny fragments, endless
>> provenance hand balling etc etc"
> Where are you looking exactly? eBay? Craigslist? Boot sales? You
> can also buy a million types of snake oil at those same venues. It
> doesn't mean it's a problem that is endemic in any given field that
> sells or buys at that venue. Most known members of this mailing list
> are trustworthy. We all know who is and who isn't. And the people who
> are crooks get run out of town pretty quick. There are a few of us who
> might be eccentrics, anti-socials, egotists, blowhards, or some other
> species of the common jerk, but you know who to trust when it comes to
> authenticity. The field sorts itself out and the informed buyer
> chooses from well-established and reputable sources.
> Nobody likes thieves or scammers and the only issue I have with the
> list of negative attributes on your list is "tiny fragments". As
> someone who has owned, traded, and sold his share of tiny fragments,
> that is not a negative thing that should be lumped in with thievery.
> As I am sure you are aware, most scientific analysis doesn't require
> large volumes of material, especially redundant materials for
> diminishing/no scientific gain. Even a 3mg Bessey Speck is big enough
> for the microprobe and then some. It's scientific value might be
> extremely limited if that speck represents yet another unremarkable H5
> W4 from the NWA DCA.
> What about the samples from scientifically-interesting material like
> NWA 7038? How much science could be done with a "tiny fragment" of
> that? Speaking of remarkable meteorites with scientific value, the
> recent Martian NWA 7038 was found by someone who never saw the inside
> of a classroom, traded to another person with no degrees, and sold to
> another guy with no letters after his name. Middle level dealers
> bought and sold some pieces after it trickled down into the market,
> and now people are paying $20-$50 for a crumb weighing less than 20mg.
> If we had waited on a juried collection of bureaucrat-approved dandies
> to make that recovery, "Black Beauty" would be buried in the desert
> until all of it's value to science was eroded to nothing.
> Now, not much of that particular meteorite (or it's pairings) is on
> the collector market waiting to be bought like a baseball card. But, a
> "tiny fragment" can cost a day's work for some people, and does that
> make it less valuable or less ethical? Should only well-heeled (or
> connected) people of letters be allowed to collect meteorites? Should
> I buy a tiny fragment of something for my collection (or research), or
> should we budget-limited souls take our unwashed minds back to the
> fleamarket and rummage for Beanie Babies and old postcards?
> If somebody is breaking the law to hunt (or buy,trade,sell,collect)
> meteorites, then there are obviously laws already in place against
> fraud and theft that need to be enforced. If somebody in the IMCA is
> crooked, call them out and report them to the board. If somebody on
> this List is crooked, call them out and let them answer for their
> shady dealings.
> But, let's not act like some government or board of academics should
> be the judge and jury of who gets to keep a meteorite found on private
> property, or to decide who the owner of said meteorite should be able
> to give/sell/trade it to for everyone's mutual satisfaction.
> I didn't mean to offend the hard working and ethical hunters in
> Australia who abide by the rules and make recoveries that are
> available to science. When I called out Australia, I did not mean -
> "Ooooh look at Australia, their government is dumb and these people
> can't trust their own citizens to own or trade a meteorite". What I
> meant was this : take a look at Morocco or the US by comparison. Many
> more finds are made, and made available to science because the process
> of acquiring these finds does not involve a chain of forms in
> triplicate, the approval of a ten-layer bureaucracy, and some
> unelected yahoo deciding who keeps what and what it might be worth if
> sold or traded.
> Does abuse happen in Morocco and the US? Yes, and existing laws in
> those countries address those abuses. It's already illegal to smuggle
> commodities. Trying to sneak an undeclared chocolate bar across
> international borders can land you in a locked room. Nobody in their
> right mind would want to sit in a Algerian jail for grand theft. It
> doesn't mean people won't try it anyway, but that doesn't mean a
> distant outside federal/imperial bureaucracy should have jurisdiction
> over the issue.
> I don't know about you, I'd rather deal with the person who lives near
> me, might know me, and has something in common with me - not some guy
> with drank his way to a degree, wears a clip-on tie, and lives in a
> walled compound 1000 miles away.
> In the end, conquerors write history books and make the laws. Ask the
> American Indians who should own the meteorites that fall on American
> soil. They are the rightful owners of the land, but a bunch of old
> white guys with clip-on ties now call the shots here. Or, ask the
> aborigines in Australia who own the meteorites that fall there. Oh,
> you can't, because England used it for penal colony and then the
> inmates took over. Or, ask the Argentines who gets to keep the Campos.
> Oh wait, the original Campo owners were killed or bred out of
> existence by Spanish and Portuguese "missionaries". (at least they are
> in a better place now, right? The savages weren't landed gentry or
> men of letters, so who cares.)
> Sorry Ian, I am not firing on your personally. I just get a little
> ticked off at attitudes like that in the original article that started
> this discussion. It reminded me of that terrible hit piece on the
> "meteorite black market" in the NYT a few years back and that the IMCA
> published a rebuttal to it.
> As far as tiny fragments being bad or negative, that is personal to me
> also because I collect specimens of all types, including micromounts
> and I trade in "tiny fragments". I have over 100 localities in my
> collection that are all authentic. I can provide free samples large
> enough for analysis to any authoritative institution that wishes to
> test their validity. I trust my sources that well. If I didn't, I
> wouldn't have acquired the specimen in the first place and I certainly
> would not have offered it to someone else if there was ever any doubt
> about it's authenticity. Any good dealer/trader/collector would
> adhere to those standards, regardless of whether or not they had an
> IMCA number.
> I gotta ask though, what is "provenance hand balling"? I have not
> heard that one before. I assume it means falsifying or obfuscating
> some part of the chain of custody? Or, am I just dense and missed this
> one.
> Happy Huntings Ian. Nothing personal to you or Australian people. It's
> more my frustration at unwarranted or incompetent government
> intrustion into private or scientific affairs.
> Best regards,
> MikeG
> On 1/15/16, ian macleod via Meteorite-list
> <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com> wrote:
>> Hi List, we can bang on about laws all day (which actually vary here in
>> Australia between states) and also point fingers at scientists and museum
>> staff we don't know. At the end of the day the law is the law...Deal with
>> it
>> There is no elitism going on, these guys are nice enough they just have to
>> make a point and warning in respect to laws.
>> Bob is right the Canadian model is a better system. The USA has too much
>> freedom that is abused, Australia the opposite occurs
>> The idea meteorites are not found or reported in Australia is far from
>> accurate.
>> See the USA enjoys a 'few' remaining labs that processing many kilograms of
>> potentially stolen property out of NWA, this has given the appearance of
>> very active work, and that something new is happening......respectfully I
>> beg to differ
>> We now have 50,000 meteorites and only 6 or so that we have orbit data for.
>> The orbit ones were all found by camera networks NOT guys all over Africa
>> So when it comes to collecting the next find like baseball cards or wanting
>> to see meteoritics evolve.....I chose evolution
>> I constantly see deception, fraud, ridiculous pricing, items stolen out of
>> countries, governments and scientists disrespected, incorrectly described
>> items, dubious provenance, destroyed samples, tiny fragments, endless
>> provenance hand balling etc etc
>> and this is coming from many IMCA and non IMCA sellers and hunters
>> So sorry lads Im sticking with the scientists on this one and the with few
>> people in the private collecting meteorite community I trust....
>> Ian
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Received on Sat 16 Jan 2016 12:02:48 PM PST

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