An Article In Meteorite-Times Magazine
This feature is devoted each month to one of the personalities within the meteorite community. This month we are delighted to share an interview we had with Matt Morgan.
What or who got you interested in
meteorites and how old were you when you got your first meteorite?
As a youngster, I was very interested in astronomy and held subscriptions to a couple of astronomy-related magazines. I always flipped through the pages and would stare at this ad which read "Meteorites...Robert A. Haag". This was the early 80s. I never wrote or called Bob, thinking that I could not afford a meteorite on my small allowance. But my first "meteorite" was in a rock kit from the Milwaukee Public Museum (I went there often as a kid) that contained fragments of a dinosaur bone, meteorite (which I now know was Canyon Diablo shale), and various minerals. It wasn't until many years later at the 1996 Denver Gem and Mineral Show, where I bought a real specimen. My first was an etched slab of Gibeon from Alain Carion and subsequently 3 Gao stones from Alain as well. I still have the Gibeon, but I needed to make a little money back from the big purchase, so I placed 2 of the Gaos on this new thing called the Internet on a very VERY simple web page I made. I think Eric Twelker was one of the only dealers set up at the time. Low and behold, they sold almost instantly! And I was off to buy a few more from Alain. Mile High Meteorites and my collection were born!
Do you have special areas of interest that you focus on in regards to meteorites (thin sections, photography, chemistry, age dating.. etc)?
In regard to collection, I love witnessed falls, specifically those from Europe and the western US. If they have museum labels, that is even better. Witnessed falls are like fine red wines... they get better with age. Scientifically, I am very interested in the study of impact geology. In fact my Master's thesis is on the Late Devonian Alamo impact breccia in southeastern Nevada. Over the past few years I have participated in workshops, field trips and co-authored papers on the Alamo Breccia. It is really a fascinating area and field to be involved in.
I also have co-authored a couple of papers on meteorites that appeared in Meteoritics and Planetary Science and at the Lunar and Planetary Science conference in Houston.
Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?
My wife, Karen, is a geologist too, but is not really too interested in meteorites. She is curious when new specimens arrive, but that is as far as it goes. Which is good, because if we both collected, we would be broke! She does go with me sometimes on meteorite hunts, mostly to keep me company and be in the outdoors (she is always looking for a tan).
Do you have any special approaches to collecting? (Type collection, only stones, only irons, only by aesthetics, etc. or any and all that you like.)
Yes, my collecting habits are geared toward witnessed falls. I don't really type collect or focus only on irons, etc. Meteorites are the way I can touch the stars.
Do you mind saying how many locations your collection represents?
At last count I think there are at least 100 different locations represented and about 250 specimens in total.
Is your collection displayed or kept in a dry box or both?
DISPLAYED!!! How can a collector NOT display their collection? It is in a wood and glass cabinet, safely protected by a security system. The dry climate in Colorado is perfect for meteorites, and as a result I do not need to use desiccants and dehydrates.
In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites?
In all ways. Selling, buying, trading, hunting, you name it. Keeping in touch with other dealers and meteorite enthusiasts is my favorite.
Do you ever hunt for meteorites?
Yes, when I have time, which is quite rare these days. Having a "day job" hampers my hunting tremendously. My buddy, Gary Curtiss and I will spend a weekend here and there going back to places where meteorites have been found before or canvas an area where a fireball was just seen. We have yet to recover a meteorite, but I think the day is coming soon! Colorado is our hunting ground, although we have both hunted Holbrook and Correo several times. We even hunted for the Puente Ladron meteorite that Nininger talks about in his "Published Papers" book and interestingly, we found the fire pit he spoke of in the article. That was as fun as finding a meteorite!
What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?
That is hard to say.... My 18 gram Pasamonte (from the NHM-London) ranks up there with the 2.8g Canon City (with fusion crust and mini Huss number from ASU), 25g crusted Johnstown (with NHM-London number), the 57g complete Murchison, 79g 100% complete Pultusk (with TCU number), and the 18.7g etched slab of Willamette.
Most dear to me is my 202 gram end piece of La Criolla which fell on January 6, 1985. My birthday is January 6 (different year). The specimen was collected by Bob Haag in 1985 and was traded to my by Steve Schoner. So the provenance is outstanding as you can tell!
What is your favorite overall if it is not the one above?
The La Criolla. It came to me through the best guys in the biz. Well, all it needed was Blaine Reed and it would be priceless!
What meteorites are currently on your wish list?
Lets see... A piece of the Elbert, Colorado LL6 (fell 1998); Albareto, Barntrup, Benares (a), Bo Xian, Witsand Farm...the only LL4 falls missing from my collection. Any lunar or Martian meteorites from Colorado :)
What methods have been most successful in building your collection? (Buying at shows, from dealers by mail, auctions on the web, trading... etc)
All of the above. Most successful is trading with museums and other dealers. Buying at shows is usually expensive and limited to only a few specimens. buying from deals usually works out for both, especially if you pay in cash...the collector gets a better price and the dealer has cash on hand for more purchases. Money talks in the field!
16. Do you also collect related materials like impact
glasses, breccias, melts, tektites, shocked fossils, native iron rocks etc?
Yes, I do collect (although limited) impact breccias from craters. I think I have about 20 different ones from around the world. Some which you cannot "buy" anywhere.
Do you prepare any of your own specimens? (cut, polish, etch, etc.)
I prepare about 75% of the specimens I sell. I have a small meteorite lab in my garage complete with a slab saw, grinder/polisher, and various chemicals. I take pride in the cutting of meteorites and would only trust a few others in this business.
Have you had to take any special measures to protect them
from the environment?
In Colorado I really don't need to worry about climate since it is pretty dry here year round. So all of my specimens are natural and uncoated! It is wonderful not to have to worry about slapping a protective coating on any of my pieces.