69354 is the Zip Code for Mars[land]

In 1933, a 2.25kg meteorite was discovered in the community of Marsland, Nebraska. While not technically Mars, Marsland is, you have to admit, a pretty cool name for a meteorite even if only an H5.

The Marsland chondrite is from the red state of Nebraska. This image shows the polished face of my slice highlighting the delicate metal flake, trio of iron nodules, and occasional chondrule.

Marsland was not named after the wonderful Red Planet, but instead for Thomas Marsland, the general freight manager for the railroad at the time of Marsland’s founding on August 28, 1889.

Marsland shares not only my birth state, but also my current time zone. Located in the far northwest corner of Nebraska, it makes the cut into Mountain Standard Time that stretches all the way to eastern Oregon while any meteorite witnessed to fall slightly east of Marsland will be recorded in Central Standard Time.

The unpolished face of Marsland also contains a specimen number from the Jim Schwade collection, as well as a pair of inked letters that appear to be [gr.] meaning gram and in the notation that H. H. Nininger often used to denote the weights of slices.

From a collecting standpoint, Marsland is a find with a reasonably low TKW and equally low distribution. As an H5 ordinary chondrite Marsland holds the second most common classification after the L6 chondrites. While very few non-falls find friendship in my collection, Marsland is one of the exceptions due exclusively to its name.

The “crust” on Marsland is little more then a textured skin that has oxidized over the decades as it sat alone and unappreciated in a Nebraska field.

Nebraska meteorites are far from rare, and 1933 was a popular year for witnessed falls and finds alike so there is no magic in that number. The classification, and the size of the single recovered stone are unexciting, and while a reasonably fresh interior, the exterior confesses a terrestrial history extending long before Nebraska was officially recognized as a state.

A more accurate feature of Marsland that tells the story of a long terrestrial life is the degree to which the earth as invaded the space of the stone. A thin but clearly present weathering rind extends several millimeters from the crust towards the stone’s heart.

My rectangular slice of Marsland has one edge of crust and two nice faces. The polished of the two faces show a rich black matrix sprinkled plenty of fine-grained metal flake, troilite, and the occasional chondrule.

The unpolished face bares the notation of once being in the James Schwade Meteorite Collection, and upon whose card identifies the source previous to Jim as David New, a mainstay in meteorite dealership during the 80s and 90s.

I considered David New a friend because like many who practiced the art of meteorite collecting in the 1990s, David was an mentor, teacher, and dealer of fine specimens.

Although my collecting deliberately targets historic witnessed falls, Marsland is a welcome exception to my rule. I am happy to add any planetary-named meteorite to my collection regardless of the size of the audience in attendance during its earthly birth.

Until next time….

About the Author

Martin Horejsi
Dr. Martin Horejsi is a Professor of Instructional Technology and Science Education at The University of Montana. A long-time meteorite collector and writer, before publishing his column The Accretion Desk in The Meteorite Times, he contributed often and wrote the column From The Strewnfields in Meteorite Magazine. Horejsi is currently a monthly columnist in The Science Teacher, a journal by the National Science Teachers Association. Horejsi specializes in the collection and study of historic witnessed fall meteorites with the older, smaller, and rarer the better. Although his meteorite collection once numbered over a thousand pieces with near that many different locations, several large trades and sales have streamlined the collection to about 250 locations with all but 10 being important witnessed falls. Many of the significant specimens in Horejsi's collection are historic witnessed falls that once occupied prominence in the meteorite collections of Robert A. Haag, James Schwade, and Michael Farmer. Other important specimens were acquired through institutional trades including those from The Smithsonian Institution, Arizona State University, and other universities.