Martin Horejsi

 
An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
Martin Horejsi's Meteorite and Tektite Books


 

Another "Toolbox Meteorite"

Souslovo, Russia


Souslovo

 

Other than orientation (and a few other notables) shape is rarely a quality of a meteorite that clinches a deal. Souslovo just happened to be of a form made from heaven if what you desire is to keep a wagon wheel from rolling.

As I've put forth before, my collecting habits usually steer clear of unwitnessed falls, recent discoveries, common classifications, and large total known weights, and especially all four. But one can only hunt for so long before other game begins to look tasty. So as the historic collectibles become few and very far between, I can get bored. And this is exactly what happened when I heard of a nice complete slice of a recent find whose shape was instrumental in its discovery.

Utilitarian meteorites, or those space rocks and irons I like to call "Toolbox Meteorites" begin life on earth in a more practical occupation rather than an academic one. History is filled with job descriptions for meteorites, whether pounded into swords, or kicked around as a less glamorous but more employable doorstop, or if weight-challenged, working alongside gravity to hold papers in place on some far off desk. Frankly, just to survive, some meteorites must work to earn their keep. Until, that is, they are discovered and forever pampered in a gentle bed of polyester batting under glass, or comfortably cradled in a desiccated display cabinet.

One stone of Allende even worked a brief stint in automotive repair industry. Bob Haag recovered a 17kg (main mass?) of Allende from an auto repair garage in Mexico where the stone was used as a wheel block to prop up cars after they were jacked off the ground. The scaring from such heavy lifting is easily visible in the second picture.

Haag

 

The pic above shows the true strength of The Meteorite Man! Almost able to hold the 17kg Allende in one hand, this monster carbonaceous chondrite could have been yours, at the 2006 Tuscon Show anyway, for somewhere around $50,000 if my memory serves me correctly.

The pic below highlights the scar running across the face of this Toolbox Meteorite from its time in the auto shop. The curved ditch in this stone reflects the shape of a car axle. Frankly, I'm amazed that this stone is in as good a shape as it is. But looking at the overall shape, a sizable amount of it could be missing having succumbed to harsh life in the car repair garage--especially where a rock is considered a tool.

Allende


Souslovo first appeared on my radar, and that of many others, when the 11.9kg main mass and a 264g slice surfaced in the Machovich Meteorite Auction at the Tucson Show on February 9, 2003 (catalog viewable here). However I neither bid nor won any Souslovo in the auction.

Here are images of the catalog entries from that auction:

Souslovo

Souslovo

An image of what I suspect is the main mass of Souslovo makes a cameo appearance in slide 17 of a PowerPoint downloadable here.

And Souslovo debuted in the Number 87 issue of the Meteoritics and Planetary Science Meteoritical Bulletin that was published in July of 2003 (viewable here):

Souslovo

Bashkortostan, Russia

Found 1997 July

Ordinary chondrite (L4)

In late July 1997, Ismagil Gaysin and his son Radik were loading hay on to a cart near Souslovo village, 10 km N of Birsk town. The cart was not safe on the sloping track, and the father asked his son to find a stone with which to secure a wheel.

Radik found a stone buried in soil in the nearest ditch.When the work was finished, they decided to bring the stone home because it had an unusual color and shape.

Later, they thought that the stone (weighing 19.3kg) could be a meteorite, and in 2002 sent a piece to the Vernadsky Institute, Moscow for identification. In 1966 March 30, 15:45 UT, a bright fireball was observed in the region and it could be that the meteorite find might be related to the fireball.

Classification and mineralogy (S. Afanasiev, Vernadsky Inst.): olivine Fa23.5; pyroxene Fs23.2Wo1.3; shock stage S2; weathering grade W0/1. Specimens: 6147 g, Vernad; main mass with anonymous owner.


Souslovo

 

Imagining the shape of the Souslovo mass extrapolated from my complete slice, I am surprised how well it matches the tire of my old truck.

As a possible fall and with a great story, Souslovo was just too good to pass up, especially when the other pickings were slim. Further, while finds are not usually my bailiwick, Finds2Falls are, and Souslovo definitely qualifies.

Souslovo

 

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail," according to the Philosopher and Psychologist Abraham Maslow. But in the case of Souslovo, I see a teardrop, not just a wheel chock.

As pictured below, to me it is easy to imagine Souslovo falling through the atmosphere gaining orientation with each passing kilometer arriving on the Russian homeland as a beautiful teardrop from heaven. And now I have a 569g complete slice through the center of the Souslovo teardrop in my collection.

Souslovo


Souslovo

 

While a quick glance at a polished slice of Souslovo offers not much more excitement than plank of old barn wood, a closer inspection reveals a microcosm teeming with life in the form of chondrules, metal flecks, and a endless supply of black circles and ovals that could be shocked inclusions, carbonaceous(?) chondrules, or some other alien worlds swept up and cooked into this meteorite during the birth of our solar system.

The weathering rind fencing the parameter of the slice does present some contradictory evidence for arriving as recently as 1966, but overall, this stone was given a low weathering grade of W0/1.

Here is an abstract titled A Weathering Scale for the Ordinary Chondrites about the weathering grades assigned to meteorites. For the gory details of such things, here is a 15 page article titled Weathering of Chondritic Meteorites complete with plenty of graphs, math formulas, and other such things.


Souslovo
 

Many of the chondrules in Souslovo retain an elegant circular symmetry, but appear shattered as if a windshield in a cosmic car wreck.

For some nice thin section photos of Souslovo, Jeff Rowell has a couple posted on his website. Here are two of his pics: One & Two.


Wow, has it really been another year? While 2008 was not a big collecting year for me in terms of volume, it has been another exciting one to be part of a global meteorite community. As the world turns another corner around the sun, more than a few changes are in store for us here on planet earth. I just hope that when December comes around again, we will all have more meteorites to study, more great meteorite stories to tell, and of course more peace among the meteorite landing sites.


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