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 
Emmanuel Jacquet.

Meteorite-Times (MT) What or who got you interested in meteorites and how old were you when you got your first meteorite?

Emmanuel Jacquet (EJ) Since immemorial times, I had been fascinated by space and interested in minerals, and quite logically, meteorites, at the intersection of these fields, looked like an Holy Grail. But it was not until 1995 -- I was nine years old -- that I realized that one could collect them, as my mother found the coordinates of Dr Alain Carion's mineral and meteorite gallery in Paris, where I could choose my extraterrestrial Christmas present.

(MT) What was your first meteorite?

(EJ) It was a 88-gram Sikhote-Alin fragment (I think connoisseurs would refer to it as a "shrapnel").


(MT) Do you still have it?

(EJ) Of course. I have hitherto never parted with any meteorite or meteorite-related specimen and I wonder if I ever will...

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

(EJ) I am primarily interested in the composition of meteorites and in what meteorites tell us about the early history or the prehistory of the solar system. But I do not know any field in meteoritics that is not tantalizing, e.g. the beginnings of this science, which certainly teach us something about epistemology.

(MT) Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?

I would not say that my parents have caught the virus in the severe way that I have, but on the other hand, it would be foolish not to recognize their great role in my growing interest, which involves a good amount of scientific curiosity : they gave me books about the subject, and most of my first meteorites, took me to museums (the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle and that of the Ecole des Mines, both in Paris, the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna) and shows -- including Ensisheim in 2001... My sister sometimes asks questions about meteorites and the hazard of a new KT crisis, partly because she is currently studying biology and Earth science. In contrast, the cat and the goldfishes look only very vaguely interested.


Me and my father on the rim of the Meteorite Barringer Crater

(MT) 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.)

(EJ) My goal has long been to acquire a specimen of each type, and most of these are micromounts because of their rarity. Now, many gaps have been filled -- not down to the xth level of the classification scheme, but I am not necessarily intending to get every combination of chemical and petrological types of chondrites for example -- and although I am still looking for compositionally strange meteorites in priority, I am not entirely opaque to aesthetical or historical elements...

(MT) Do you mind saying how many locations your collection represents?

(EJ) If my handwritten records are correct, my collection contains 85 meteorites from 79 different locations, and the total known weight should be somewhere between .2 and .3 kg.

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

(EJ) The majority of the collection is displayed more or less following the classification scheme as in the photograph below (this one and the following have benefited from the help of my sister Magali Jacquet). The remaining albeit in no way less interesting specimens (lunar e.g.) are stored in two boxes.

(MT) In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites?

(EJ) Internet has proven invaluable as regards meteorites. Many of my meteorites have been purchased from dealers I would otherwise never have known of, and much information about meteoritics can be gathered that way, e.g. in David Weir's wonderful "Systematic classification through photographs" or laboratory websites.

(MT) Do you ever hunt for meteorites?

(EJ) This dream has yet to be fulfilled. It would be fantastic to find a meteorite, say in Antarctica, if I am allowed to dream further, but I will need many shooting stars to get that wish realized.

(MT) What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?

(EJ) My meteorite collection is theoretically an equalitarian society. Nevertheless, I would not say that I am entirely indifferent to my oriented Saharan chondrite, my Esquel partial slice, my NWA 1950 lherzolite, my Dhofar 461 lunar granulitic breccia, my Tuxtuac L5 chondrite, my Ensisheim partial slice, my Portales Val... Well, it is definitely impossible to single out a favorite...


(From left to right) Murchison (CM2 ; 1.3 g), Ensisheim (LL6 ; 0.53 g),
Gao-Guenie (H5 ; 15 g); Esquel (pallasite).


Portales Valley (H6 ;2.3 g).


(Up and clockwise) NWA 1950 (lherzolitic shergottite ; 0.142 g),
Dhofar 461 (lunar granulitic breccia ; 0.260 g), Saint-Séverin (LL6, 12.5 g).


An oriented Saharan chondrite weighing about 25 g.

(MT) What makes these of special interest?

(EJ) The planetary meteorites need I think no further explanation than the prospect of space exploration. My historical meteorites (currently mainly from France) are somehow witnesses to the history and prehistory of meteoritics. Many of the other I have tried to list are interesting because they seem to show more clearly than others what they have experienced (the olivine crystals swimming in the metallic melt in pallasites, the frozen impact-induced differentiation in Portales Valley, the dark chondrules in the light-colored matrix of Tuxtuac...) -- what however must be taken only with great caution, since I am not a petrologist and science in general is never definitive.

(MT) What meteorites are currently on your wish list?

(EJ) I would be glad to own one of the newly recognized mantle meteorites such as the Dhofar 732 orthopyroxenite or one of the olivine diogenites, a Kakangari grouplet sample. May be it is also a good time to acquire a stone from the L'Aigle shower...

(MT) What methods have been most successful in building your collection? (Buying at shows, from dealers by mail, auctions on the web, trading... etc)

(EJ) Many of my meteorites have been bought from dealers by mail, and in shows -- which are a good opportunity to hold the most exotic stones. I often read about auctions at eBay which yield real bargains and may be I should check someday to what extent this is true.

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

(EJ) Yes. The aforementioned records list 25 impact-related samples such as tektites form various strewnfields (though no bediasite, georgiaite or ivorite still), Rochechouart-Chassenon impact breccias, etc.


Me holding a Rochechouart breccia and a teardrop-shaped australite,
with fossils, minerals and other natural history objects in the background.

(MT) Do you prepare any of your own specimens? (cut, polish, etch, etc.) Have you had to take any special measures to protect them from the environment?

(EJ) I am not really a practical man and thus I have so far performed no preparation nor any sophisticated protection. Fortunately, most of my samples are stones and are not subjected to problems like rust so far I am concerned.