Meteorite Identification

Do you think you may have found a meteorite?  Here is a guide that may help you:

1. Does the specimen feel unusually heavy for its size?
Yes = possible meteorite.
Many meteorites, particularly iron meteorites, are quite dense and feel heavier than most rocks found on Earth.

2. Does the specimen attract a magnet?
Yes = possible meteorite.
Almost all meteorites contain some iron-nickel metal and attract a magnet easily.

3. Can you see gray metal specks shining on any broken surface of the specimen?
Yes = possible meteorite.
Most meteorites contain at least some iron-nickel metal. These fragments may be seen shining on a chipped surface.

4. Does the specimen have a thin black crust on its outer surface?
Yes = possible meteorite.
When a meteor falls through the Earth’s atmosphere, a very thin layer on the outer surface of the rock melts. This thin layer is called a fusion crust. It is usually black and has the texture of an eggshell.

5. Does the specimen appear to have ‘thumbprints or dents’ on its surface?
Yes = possible meteorite.
Often, when a meteor falls through the Earth’s atmosphere, these thumbprint-like features called regmaglypts form on the surface.

6. Does the specimen have any holes or bubbles in it?
No = possible meteorite.
Meteorites do not have holes or bubbles. Slag from industrial processes usually has holes or bubbles.

If the answers to questions 1 and 2 are No, then the rock is almost certainly not a meteorite.
If the rock is actually a meteorite, then the answers to most of questions 1 through 5 should be Yes, and question 6 should be No.

If you have any further questions, please refer to the list of ADWG members.

 

You may also find the following websites useful:

MIAC – Canada (Meteorites and Impacts advisory community) http://miac.uqac.ca

Photo Gallery of meteorwrongs: http://meteorites.wustl.edu/meteorwrongs/

American Meteorite Survey Meteorite Identification Page (self-identification; professional identifications): http://www.geocities.com/meteorite_identification/

Arizona State University (professional identifications): http://meteorites.asu.edu/identification/

Meteorites Australia (self-identification; photo send-ins): http://www.meteorites.com.au/found.html

ELKK Meteorites (self-identification): http://www.star-bits.com/ID.htm

International Meteorite Collectors Association Inc. (self-identification; professional identifications): http://imca.repetti.net/metinfo/metfind.html

Meteorite-Identification (self-identification; professional identifications): http://meteorite-identification.com/

Helpful diagnostic tests and characteristics: http://meteorite-identification.com/streak.html

List of research facilities for professional IDs: http://meteorite-identification.com/verification.html

The Meteorite Market (self-identification; professional identifications): http://www.meteoritemarket.com/metid1.htm

The Meteoritical Society (professional identifications): http://meteoriticalsociety.org/pub_bulletinsubmit.cfm

University of New Mexico (self-identification): http://epswww.unm.edu/iom/ident/index.html

Northern Arizona University (self-identification): http://www4.nau.edu/meteorite/Meteorite/Book-Identification.html

Smithsonian Institution – Division of Meteorites (self-identification): http://mineralsciences.si.edu/collections/meteorites.htm

Turnstone Geological Services Ltd. (self-identification): http://www.turnstone.ca/mets.htm

Washington University in St. Louis (self-identification; photo send-ins):

Helpful diagnostic tests and characteristics: http://meteorites.wustl.edu/what_to_do.htm http://meteorites.wustl.edu/realities.htm