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 Pierre-Marie PELE.

What or who got you interested in meteorites and how old were you when you got your first meteorite?

When I was a child, I was interested by fossils, minerals and archaeology. In 1992, when I was 22 years old, I went like every year to the International Minerals Show at the Hotel Saint-Jacques in Paris ; walking along the stands, I met Robert A. Haag. I had heard of this incredible man from a TV report. He had a stand, selling some magnificent meteorites and his great ďField Guide of MeteoritesĒ. I was amazed by him. He really looked like a rock-star ! Robert dedicated me his book and then I discovered the world of meteorites. The Haagís Guide was placed on a bookshelf in my apartment with many other books. I didnít kept attention to it until a day of 2001. I found back the guide and read with attention all the anecdotes and expeditions organized by Haag. Then, I decided to try myself searching and collecting meteorites.

What was your first meteorite?

My first meteorite was a Sikhote-Alin weighing 65 grams. I know itís an common meteorite in a collection but I was really happy to own a piece of space. I bought it in a Show in Paris at a Russian seller.

Do you still have it?

No, I sold it a few months ago because I had bought a better Sikhote-Alin with a hole in it. I donít like to have many similar meteorites. I sell the doubles to buy other meteorites.

Do you have special areas of interest that you focus on in regards to meteorites (thin sections, photography, chemistry, age dating.. etc)?

No, Iím interested in any aspects of meteorites. Iím also writing a book about French meteorites. It will be a major release on the subject. Each French meteorite will be listed, with historical aspects, pictures, strewnfield maps, analysis, bibliography and many hints to find specimens. Check out my website www.meteor-center.com  for its availability.

Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?

No, Iím the only one interested in meteorites. Anyway, Iíve got two colleagues at my work who collect meteorites. We will travel all together, searching for meteorites. We meet regularly.

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.)

Iím collecting any kind of meteorites, especially if they are hard to get. As I live in France, my goal is to own most of the French meteorites available on the market. But I also wish to get any kind of meteorites of the official classification. Iím more and more wary with NWAs. I now collect only low total kilo weight NWAs and rare NWAs (achondrites, Martian and lunar). Iím a bit fed up with NWAs ordinary chondrites.

Do you mind saying how many locations your collection represents?

I own approximately 200 meteorites from 64 different types. I would say that they represent around 120 locations, much more if you consider that each NWA and DAG is from a different locationÖ

Is your collection displayed or kept in a dry box or both?

I keep all my collection in a big display cabinet. Each meteorite (the small ones) is in a riker box or a membrane box. I avoid to touch them directly.

In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites?

I use my computer for several uses.
1. For buying meteorites. I buy most of them on eBay because you can get real bargains. I also buy some from meteorites shops on the web.
2. For searching for information on meteorites. I like to know the history and analysis of each meteorite I own. I keep a detailes record of each one in an Access database.
3. For updating my website, www.meteor-center.com. Sorry, it is in French. On it, I can display a major part of my collection. Thereís also the complete list of meteorites in the world, special reports (líAigle meteorite, meteorite hunt in Spain, Ensisheim 2003 ShowÖ)

Do you ever hunt for meteorites?

Until recently, I didnít hunt for meteorites as I live near Paris and French meteorite fields are really far from my home.
But, in June 2003, I decided to spend three weeks in northern Spain hunting. I searched in a marvelous Spanish desert called The Bardenas Reales. Itís a 1200 square kilometers desert with landscapes looking like Morocco or American National Parks. Itís very impressive. Thereís only a few millimeters of rain every year. I found a wonderful chondrite, with 95% of fusion crust, weighing nearly 750 grams. I did cut a fragment with Alain Carion and Iíll send it to the analysis. At the first view, itís a L chondrite.  I also travel regularly to the LíAigle strewnfield which is 120 kilometers from my home but itís hard to find meteorites because of the vegetation and the muddy terrain.  I plan to go to Niger or Mali with my two colleagues next year. And also in Southern France to hunt for old meteorite falls.

What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?

My favorite meteorite is a nice Ensisheim slice I bought some months ago at the Ensisheim Show. But I also like some rarities I own as Chassigny, Henvic (a very rare French meteorite), Finmarken (a Norwegian pallasite) and Barbotan.

What is your favorite overall if it is not the one above?

My favorite is Henvic as we must be less than ten in the world owning this meteorite. The total weight is only 19 grams !

What makes these of special interest?

They are very hard to get on sale, especially Henvic which I hardly got ! We are only a few collectors in the world to own this one.

What meteorites are currently on your wish list?

Esquell, Gujba, Calcalong CreekÖ My list would be too long to be listed ! I need a big slice of pallasite and I have chosen to buy Esquell as itís the most beautiful. I also like the structure of Gujba and I would like a few grams slice.

What methods have been most successful in building your collection?

90% of the meteorites I buy are won on ebay. I like the way ebay works. Itís like a game, itís a lot of fun winning auctions. And, most of the time, the prices are very interesting. I think ebay is the best way to get great samples. I also like to buy at the Shows, not because the prices are attractive or at a low price but because I can discuss with my friends, with sellers, collectorsÖ Itís a lot of fun to meet all the ebay sellers and to be able to speak with them.

Do you also collect related materials like impact glasses, breccias, melts, tektites, shocked fossils, native iron rocks etc?

I possess some tectites and impactites but itís not a goal. If I get an opportunity, Iíll buy but thatís all. I prefer to pay for meteorites instead of meteorite-relative materials.

Do you prepare any of your own specimens? (cut, polish, etch, etc.)

No, I donít have the tools to prepare my specimens. For the chondrite I found in Spain in June, Alain Carion was very friendly and cut it for me. If I find more meteorites, Iíll have to buy a saw but at the moment, I donít have the use of it.

Have you had to take any special measures to protect them from the environment?

At the moment, all my meteorites are well preserved, except for a Nantan with is oxidized. I might think to buy a dessicator or a humidity indicator.