METEORITE OF DRAVEIL, FRANCE
A Summer 2011 Fall
By Alain Carion
Translated by Anne Black
If someday, someone had told me that I would be going meteorite hunting by taking the Metro, getting off at the station Juvisy on the bank of the river Seine, I would have probably smiled, but that is exactly what I did for 5 days at the end of the month of September.
It all started on Thursday, September 22, in my store in the Ile Saint Louis, in Paris, when a gentleman walked in and told me that he had found a meteorite. He pulled out of his pocket a beautiful and very fresh stony meteorite, and he asked me if I could help him to get it authenticated. You must realize that within the last 15 years or so we have received an average of 30 “would-be” meteorites to identify a week, usually it is by email or during a visit to our store; in fact my son Louis has computed the probability rate: 1 meteorite per 3000 stones examined, and at least every other one comes from the Sahara.
But this time, Mr. Mosset did show me a splendid extra-terrestrial rock of 88 grams, with all the right features: black fusion crust, regmaglypts, pale matrix inside with traces of iron and troilite, attracted to a magnet. Perfect! We had here a real meteorite, and fallen just outside Paris. Mr. Mosset explains to me that after a thunderstorm some three weeks ago, they were surprised to find that the roof was leaking. They then called a roofer who climbed up to replace the broken tiles and discovered this meteorite. The roofer took a tiny fragment for himself and handed the rest to the homeowner. I noticed that another face was broken, meaning that a fragment might still be stuck among the roof tiles. So we decide to meet on the following Sunday on the “site of the crime”!
We are met there by Mr. Mosset and his companion who tells us with a big smile that her name is Mme Comette, with 2 Ts! This could not have been invented! Since our meeting of the preceding Thursday, Mr. Mosset had climbed back on the roof and checked every tile, but he had found nothing. Maybe the roofer had taken more than he had said.
This is really an important discovery. No meteorite ever fell at less than 50 miles from Paris. The Beryllium 7 isotope study proved that the fall was only a few weeks old. It might even have fallen during the month of August when they were on vacation away from Paris.
We had to smile when we remembered all the media storm, all the astounding statements published after a fireball was seen over Brittany, all that while a real meteorite was falling very quietly in a suburb of Paris.
During the following week we searched an area of a 1000 meters-radius around that house. We distributed flyers to all the people living within that area, so far without success. But the hunting season for meteorites in Draveil is still open, and I would love to buy a nice piece for my collection.