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)

Photo Gallery of meteorwrongs:

American Meteorite Survey Meteorite Identification Page (self-identification; professional identifications):

Arizona State University (professional identifications):

Meteorites Australia (self-identification; photo send-ins):

ELKK Meteorites (self-identification):

International Meteorite Collectors Association Inc. (self-identification; professional identifications):

Meteorite-Identification (self-identification; professional identifications):

Helpful diagnostic tests and characteristics:

List of research facilities for professional IDs:

The Meteorite Market (self-identification; professional identifications):

The Meteoritical Society (professional identifications):

University of New Mexico (self-identification):

Northern Arizona University (self-identification):

Smithsonian Institution – Division of Meteorites (self-identification):

Turnstone Geological Services Ltd. (self-identification):

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

Helpful diagnostic tests and characteristics: