Meteorites

Bensour

February's Meteorite of the Month is Bensour, an ordinary (LL6) chondrite that fell in Morocco, in 2002, near the border with Algeria.

An article published in Meteorite Times magazine describes the fall, as recounted by an eye witness:

"I was out tending camels when at about 4:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, February 10, 2002, I saw a light in the sky to the west.  The object grew very bright, but it was not moving. Suddenly, the object exploded into many pieces and passed overhead, leaving a trail of dark smoke. A moment later, I heard loud explosions like thunder and thought that it was a military jet that had been shot down. I saw the pieces fall to the ground about 3 kilometers from my camp.  I told my children to guard the animals while me and my brother search for the crashed airplane."

Photo: The Bensour meteorite, by Flickr user Basilicofresco. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Rowena

January's meteorite of the month is Rowena, an ordinary (H6) chondrite found in Australia, in January of 1962.

Over 34 kg of the Rowena meteorite were recovered after it was unearthed while plouging a paddock, in northern New South Wales; the plough had broken the meteorite into several pieces.  These pieces were sent from the Mining and Geological Museum, in Sydney, to the Australian Museum, where the Preparation Section reassembled them into a whole and chalked the outline of the original fusion crust (see photos, below, from Chalmers and Mason, 1977).

The meteorite was named for the nearby Rowena railway station.

Read more about the discovery of the Rowena meteorite here:

Rowena meteorite 1 Rowena Meteorite 2

St. Louis

December’s Meteorite of the Month is St. Louis, an ordinary (H4) chondrite that fell in St. Louis County, Missouri, on December 10th, 1950.
 
This spectacular meteorite fall coincided with the yearly Geminid meteor shower, a separate astronomical event.  The fireball lit up the night sky with a bright green-blue glow for several seconds, and loud rumbling, compared by some to thunder or distant artillery fire, was heard for as long as 30 seconds.  Local newspaper and police telephone switchboards were inundated with calls from witnesses concerned that the sound and light were the result of an atomic bomb detonation, mostly due to the greenish light accompanying the meteorite’s fall.
 
One piece of the St. Louis meteorite fell through the roof of a moving car!  The driver was quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, describing the event: “I thought at first I’d had a blowout, but traffic was heavy and I wasn’t able to stop for about a block. Then I found the hole in the top of the car and two broken fragments, each about two and a half inches long, on the floor in back. I didn’t think much of it until I read later of the meteor exploding over the city.”
 
 
St. Louis
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This piece of the St. Louis meteorite measures 1 cm at its widest point. Photo: CMS/ASU.

Korra Korrabes

November’s Meteorite of the Month is Korra Korrabes, an ordinary (H3) chondrite found in 1996, in Namaland, Namibia.
 
According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 85):
A 22 kg stone plus 11 smaller pieces totaling ~18 kg were found in 1996 November in a dry river bed by a farmer who was searching for Gibeon irons. People searching with metal detectors recovered hundreds of additional buried, more weathered pieces within 50 m of the original material since 2000 November, bringing the total mass to ~120–130 kg. The largest specimen was used in a garden wall until 2000 August.
 
To date, 140 kg of Korra Korrabes have been recovered.
Korra Korrabes
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This piece of Korra Korrabes measures 3 cm at its widest point. Photo: CMS/ASU.

Dwaleni

October’s Meteorite of the Month is Dwaleni, an ordinary (H4-6) chondrite that fell the morning of October 12, 1970, near Nhlangano, Swaziland.
 
According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 50):
Explosions, variously described as eight distinct explosions, a series of crackling explosions, three explosions and a series of staccato reports, accompanied disintegration of the meteorite over southwest Swaziland. The descent of fragments was marked by a high pitched whine. All three fragments recovered are hard aerolite, similar in appearance and distinctly magnetic. They are irregular in shape but smooth surfaced with characteristic rounded indentations. Overall black-brown crusting with an irregular pattern of cracks is common to all three. The two smaller fragments were fractured and broken on impact and display disseminated sulfide. Specimen A was found buried in moist soil with its lowermost surface at a depth of 18 cm below groundlevel. Specimen B was buried to a similar depth in moist soil in a ploughed field. Specimen C was buried at an estimated depth of 15 cm in moist, pebbly soil on a boulder strewn hillside. It is estimated that 20% of Specimen C was splintered off on impact and was scattered as variously sized chips, only a few of which were recovered. All three specimens had been dug out before the sites were visited. It would appear that the directions of descent were vertical or near vertical.
 
To date, Dwaleni is the only meteorite to be classified from Swaziland, and over 3 kg have been recovered.
Dwaleni
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This piece of Dwaleni measures 2.5 cm at its widest point.  Photo: CMS/ASU.

Fairfield

September's Meteorite of the Month is Fairfield, an iron (IAB-MG) meteorite found in Butler County, Ohio, in 1974.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB83):

An iron mass of 1600 g was found by Mr. Roy Ballinger among material dredged by the American Materials Company from 120 feet depth in a gravel pit in Pleistocene glacial deposits. 

Fairfield is one of 12 meteorites recovered in the state of Ohio – read more about meteorites from the Buckeye State on the Ohio Geological Survey website!Fairfield Meteorite

Battle Mountain

Battle Mountain is an ordinary (L6) chondrite that fell in Humbolt County, Nevada, August 22 of 2012.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB101):

The fall was observed in weather radar imagery from the US NEXRAD radar network, operated by the US National Weather Service.  The discovery and analysis was done by Dr. Marc Fries, Galactic Analytics LLC. The KLRX radar in Elko, Nevada, is approximately 33 km from the fall site and recorded the fall in eight radar sweeps between 0619.26 UTC and 0621.03 UTC. This time span of 97 s is short compared to other meteorite falls observed by radar. This could be a result of meteorite production by a single, large breakup event, by relatively little fragmentation, or a combination of the two factors.  The first stone was found on September 1, 2012, 10:50 AM (PDT) by Robert Verish; it weighs 19.25 g. As of 3 Oct 2012, at least 23 stones with a total mass of ~2.9 kg have been reported.

Albareto

Albareto is an ordinary (L/LL4) chondrite that fell in northern Italy in July of 1766.

The meteorite’s fall was widely witnessed, as it occurred in the middle of the day, and accounts describe the stone impacting with such force that the ground shook and a cow was knocked off its feet. The 2 kg stone was recovered from a crater approximately a meter deep.

The fall of the Albareto meteorite was very well documented by the Abbé Domenico Troili in a short book published later that year: About the Fall of a Stone from the Air, Explanation, Dedicated to Their Most Serene Highnesses of Modena.

Photo:  Mossimo Barbieri. Il frammento della Meteorite di Albareto caduta del luglio 1786 conservato presso il Museo del Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra di Modena Gemma 1786.

In their 2002 paper Domenico Troili (1766): “The true cause of the fall of a stone in Albareto is a subterranean explosion that hurled the stone skyward, Ursula Marvin and Mario Cosmo discuss the Albareto meteorite fall, as well as the place of Troili’s publication in the history of meteoritics:

In mid-July, 1766, a stone fell at Villa Albareto near Modena in northern Italy. A sudden explosion like a cannon shot follwed by fierce whistling sounds frightened people over a wide area.  Some saw a fiery body falling from the sky; others said it was dark and smoky.  The ground shook when the stone plunged into the soil making a hole nearly a meter deep.  The Abbé Domenico Troili collected eyewitness reports, examined the stone, and reported the presence of marchesita, and old name for pyrite.  A century later, this mineral, which proved to be iron sulfide (FeS), was named “troilite” in his honor.  Troili’s description is unquestionaby that of a meteorite fall, and therefore some scientists have argued that it is Troili, rather than Ernst F. F. Chladni, to whom we should give credit as the first person to record the fall of a stone from space.  However, Troili, himself, had no such idea; he wrote that a subterranean explosion had hurled the stone high into the sky from a vent in the Earth.

Utrecht

Utrecht is an (L6) ordinary chondrite that fell June 2nd, 1843, in the Netherlands.

The meteorite’s spectacular fall was described by Dr. E.H. Baumhauer (Annalen der Physik 142(12):465-506).  Three to four explosions, compared to loud canon fire, were heard within a 25km radius of the city of Utrecht, followed by a whistling that lasted two to three minutes.  While most witnesses were startled by the noise, some initially thought the sound was actually produced by a distant musical performance, or the shouting of children.  One of the two stones was seen to fall by a farmer in his field, and almost 10 kg of material were ultimately recovered.Utrecht meteorite

The Utrecht meteorite is one of only five Dutch meteorites, all of which have been witnessed falls.

Photo: ASU/CMS.

Sterlitamak

Sterlitamak is a IIIAB iron meteorite that fell late on the night of May 17, 1990, in Russia.

SterlitamakPhoto: ASU/CMS/Garvie.
 
 
 
Many witnesses in South Bashkiria saw a very bright fireball (up to -5 magnitude) moving from south to north at a ~45 degree angle to the horizon. Witnesses located ~2 km from the crater observed the fireball glowing right up to the time of impact, after which several explosions were heard. The crater was found on May 19.
 
To date, 325 kg of material have been recovered from the crater, the largest piece from a depth of 12 m (39.4 ft).

 Sterlitamak crater

Photo: Archival.