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 Jeff Hodges.
Meteorite-Times (MT) How and when did your interest in meteorites begin?
Jeff Hodges (JH) Although meteorites have always fascinated me, it was not until 1998 that I began to educate myself and find out how intense the subject was. It was on a trip to the Smithsonian that same year that got me really interested. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then on the way out I stopped at the gift shop and noticed a few small iron meteorites for sale. Up to that point I thought meteorites were way too rare and expensive to own and had never thought about buying one. So I purchased a small 1 gram polished Odessa for about $20 and still treasure it to this day.
(MT) Do you have special areas of interest that you focus on in regards to meteorites (thin sections, photography, chemistry, age dating.. etc)?
(JH) My main focus is now on thin section collecting and photography. One of my main goals is to put together a comprehensive collection that represents as many classifications as possible. Then combine it with all the images I’ve accumulated to form a huge photographic database. Of course I also love to add rare and historical falls whenever possible. Especially those with interesting or unique characteristics. I also love the low petrographic chondrites. The less shock and weathering the better. I like to photograph chondrules and these types of meteorites offer abundant opportunities.
(MT) Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?
(JH) My x wife thought I was nuts and still does. She couldn’t believe nor understand why I was spending so much money on stupid “Rocks”. My kids think it is pretty cool, especially the lunar and Martian stuff but I think that they have been exposed to them so much over their whole lives that they don’t really understand how special they are. If Daddy has a house full of space rocks, so do lots of other people.
(MT) Do you mind saying how many locations your collection represents?
(JH) At the present time my collection contains approximately 600 slides from about 450 different meteorites and 300 or more classifications.
(MT) Is your collection displayed or kept in a dry box or both?
(JH) Due to the nature and value of my collection it is stored in a series of dry boxes. All but a handful at any given time are stored in a vault offsite. I do keep many small display meteorite specimens on display in my home though. I love to show them off and share them with friends.
(MT) In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites?
(JH) My computer is an invaluable tool for collecting meteorites. I use it to locate meteorites and sellers around the World. I use it to communicate with business associates and other collectors. To research, educate myself. To track my collection. And one of the biggest jobs my computer does is store and process all my photography.
(MT) Do you ever hunt for meteorites?
(JH) I never have the time to specifically go out and hunt for meteorites but if I am ever in an area I think I might see one, I definitely keep my eyes open. I haven’t found one yet though.
(MT) What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?
(JH) Choosing a favorite is almost impossible for me. They are all special in their own way. If I had to choose a favorite slide I would probably choose my Kapoeta slide made from a sample used by Dr. Elbert A King in his studies of this meteorite. It was also the subject matter for an article written for Meteorite Magazine. It contains 3 lithologies.
(MT) What is your favorite overall if it is not the one above and what makes this of special interest?
(JH) If I had to pick an all time favorite I would choose the Sikhote Alin fall. This is an incredible meteorite with plenty of inexpensive and beautifully sculpted individuals for so many people to enjoy. Not to mention the size of the fireball and the fact that it was an iron. Definitely one of the most incredible meteorite events witnessed in recorded history. I own well over 100 small individuals and never get bored looking through them. I always find some sort of new cool features. I also keep a bag of small 4-8 grammers and give them away to all my friends and family.
(MT) What meteorites are currently on your wish list?
(JH) I have been very fortunate recently to add many very rare specimens to my collection from my wish list. However, I am still looking for a nice D’Orbigney specimen. I really love angrites and this one is still missing from my collection. One of the biggest challenges to my wish is filling the K chondrite slot. Unless a new one comes along, it is highly unlikely I can do this. Anybody have any Kakangari for sell or trade?
(MT) What methods have been most successful in building your collection? (Buying at shows, from dealers by mail, auctions on the web, trading... etc)
(JH) When I first got interested in thin sections I went all out and purchased a collection of about 100 high quality slides from Marlin Cilz. This was his personal collection that he had spent years putting together from David New. This was a great way to get my collection started off in the right direction. And it also got me introduced to the best thin section lab in the World. Thank you Marlin! The collection was all super high quality with lots of interesting and rare material. From that point on I started having almost all my new slides custom made.
Almost two years ago, I got to thinking that if I combined forces with another serious collector, I could afford to add even more slides. And also some of the more exotic material I needed to fill some important classification slots. Well, I went even further than that and put together a group of three special people that all work wonderfully together. We all have our own special talents and together produce the highest quality thin sections available to collectors anywhere in the World. My two partners are Anne Black and John Kashuba. Anne does all our marketing through “Impactika” her meteorite web site and John is our research guru and answer man. With this group system, John and I can add to our collections and we can supply all sorts of wonderful and exotic new material to all those collectors out there that have very few good sources of thin sections to choose from. I should know, I was in that position and it didn’t take long for me to get completely frustrated with the poor quality and availability of meteorite slides on the market.
Another huge advantage to our talented trio has been the increase in quality. To begin with, we use the very best thin section maker known. He is the very same person that made all of the infamous slides for the now retired, David New. Luckily he and I seem to get along real well and have become very close friends over the years. Secondly, my need for super high quality slides for photography led me to attempt the impossible and see if the slides could be polished even finer. Well the lab came through for me and all our slides are made to finer specifications than any research facility would ever dream of. Many of my slides for photography are polished to 1 micron on the mounted side and ¼ micron on the top side. Many are left uncovered to photograph this super fine finish in reflected light. These slides exhibit a brilliant clear stained glass appearance. They are labeled dpc (double polished covered). Polished to 1 micron on the mounted side and 1 micron or less on the top side depending on the sample. (If polished to ¼ micron, certain material, especially metal, has nothing for the epoxy to adhere to and the specimen won’t stick to the slide or cover slip. Now that’s what I call a fine finish.)
(MT) Do you also collect related materials like impact glasses, breccias, melts, tektites, shocked fossils, native iron rocks etc?
(JH) Impact glasses and tektites just naturally go together with meteorite collecting so I have quite a few pieces. I especially love the Besednice. I am also a sucker for any type of meteorite or impact material made into tools or arrowheads. I have tektites supposedly used by Tibetan Monks, a tool or two made of Libyan Desert glass and a few highly questionable items. Questionable as to being meteoritic. One time I even saw two very nice and well made arrowhead sized iron points that were metal detected out of the Gibeon strewn field area. They were super cool but the owner refused to part with them. The tip of one had even rolled over itself 2 or 3 times where it hit something very hard.
(MT) Do you prepare any of your own specimens? (Cut, polish, etch, etc.)
(JH) I cut and polish some slices for fun every now and then. But that’s about it. Every once in a while I help out in the thin section lab a little to try and learn something new. That’s always a lot of fun.
(MT) Have you had to take any special measures to protect them from the environment?
(JH) Yes. I take extreme cautions in protecting my thin sections from moisture, cold and excessive heat. I’ve seen strange things happen to thin sections when not handled properly and losing an expensive slide is very unpleasant. Especially if it is not replaceable. I keep all my slides in individual air tight plastic boxes. Then they are put into another plastic storage box with a desiccant and finally stored in a large indestructible Pelican Case.