Bob’s Bulletin – Vol. 1 No. 4

A newsletter for “orphaned” meteorites from the USA.

 

In my first Bulletin, I introduced the phrase “orphaned-meteorites from the USA”. I defined these “orphans” as being unwitnessed-fall Ordinary Chondrite (OC) meteorite “finds” that are recovered in the U.S., but that the finders of these meteorites have found great difficulty in getting their finds recorded, let alone accepted for classification.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of new U.S. finds are of this type.
I went on to write that these U.S. finds were being orphaned from the family of “approved” meteorites for the following reasons:

1) The lack of funding for U.S. researchers to authenticate, classify, and document/record these U.S. OC finds has resulted in several new [negative]; trends.

2) The increasing trend of commercializing the classifying of meteorites by U.S. researchers has priced U.S. OC finds out of the market, and

3) The increasing trend of U.S. researchers to turn away OC finds, even when finders of U.S. OC meteorites are willing to pay for their classification.

I now need to address the comments being made that this subject is a “non-issue”. Granted, these kind of comments are few in number, and in every case comes from agenda-driven individuals whose departments stand to financially benefit in maintaining the “status quo”. But like all grass-roots issues, it doesn’t take much dirt to bury the emerging seedlings coming into the light of day.

The misinformation that is being spread like so much fertilizer is that NASA funds the classification of U.S. meteorites. Although it is widely understood that this is not the case, it only shows what Joseph Goebbels meant when he said, “If you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the truth.”

Here is an actual quote from a NASA website that describes their funding:

NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home
planet from them. In fact, the U.S. has the most robust and productive
survey and detection program for discovering near-Earth objects (NEOs).
To date, U.S. assets have discovered about 98 percent of known NEOs.

Radar is a powerful technique for studying an asteroid’s size, shape,
rotation, surface features and surface roughness, and for improving the
calculation of asteroid orbits. Radar measurements of asteroid distances
and velocities often enable computation of asteroid orbits much further
into the future than would be possible otherwise.

In addition to the resources NASA puts into understanding asteroids, it
also partners with other U.S. government agencies, university-based astronomers,
and space science institutes across the country, often with grants, inter-agency
transfers and other contracts from NASA, and also with international space
agencies and institutions that are working to track and better understand
these objects. In addition, NASA values the work of numerous highly skilled
amateur astronomers, whose accurate observational data helps improve asteroid
orbits after they are found.

So, yes, NASA does fund research involving asteroids and the “Meteoroid Environment” (the area in space where meteoroids could come into contact with our astronauts). But outside of Antarctica, once these meteorites land in the U.S., there is no funding to recover, record, let alone analyze or classify them.

And, yes, you can find certain individuals in select university departments and space science institutes that have grants or contracts with NASA that involve meteorites (presumably to search for evidence of extraterrestrial life in them), but these well-defined projects don’t include classification of meteorite finds. The classifying of U.S. Ordinary Chondrite finds would probably be considered a misuse of those funds, so the less said about that possibility, the better.

And, yes, there have been some notable exceptions (which can be counted on one hand), but each of these instances came under close scrutiny by NASA bean-counters, and were deemed exceptional cases. For example, the meteorites were recently fallen and were rare carbonaceous variety, or the finds were “young” enough to have some bearing on the influx in the current “Meteoroid Environment”.

So, once and for all, there is no U.S. funding for the classification of U.S. meteorite finds. This is a well-known fact among meteorite classifiers here in the U.S., but still had to be reiterated by Melinda Hutson in her reply to the Meteorite-List in 2013:

We never planned to study the Franconia area, and it would be impossible to get grant funding to do so (I’ve discussed this with Laurence Garvie at ASU — grants fund
well-defined research projects that have a focused [sic] goal.

No one funds classification of meteorites).”

(Ref: http://www.meteorite-list-archives.com/2013/may/0063.html )

The following “Bulletin” is just one example of an alternative way in which to record U.S. OC meteorite finds that are going unreported (because of a lack of funding to classify meteorites, which leads to a lack of interest in OC finds by U.S. researchers). It is my hope that this compilation will bring attention to the problem of the increasing number of meteorites found here in the USA, not only going unclassified, but also going unrecorded. Hopefully, some volunteers will offer to help establish an on-line database that will document these “orphans”.

Newsletter for Orphaned Meteorites from USA – Volume 1 No. 4 — November 2015

  • Meteorite-Recovery Information
  • Petrographic Descriptions
  • Meteorite Specimen Petrographic Descriptions:

Example Petrographic Description

Field ID Number C111120
Newsletter Vol. 01-4
Location California, USA
Thin-section ID Number V-W04
Dimensions 4.0cm x 3.5cm x 3.0cm
Weight 31.0 grams
Type Specimen 9.1gram endcut – plus thin-section
Class Ordinary Chondrite (quite possibly an L6)
Weathering Grade mid-range (but very likely above “W3”)
Shock Stage low (most likely “S2” or lower)
Macroscopic Description — R. Verish
This meteorite is a weathered, half-stone, which was found in two pieces. A 4.6gram corner piece was found less than a meter away from the 26.4gram main-mass, and can be physically-paired. Although only separated by less than a meter the two fragments appear to have undergone slightly different weathering histories in their respective local micro-environments. The dark exterior of this chondrite is covered 50% with a relict fusion crust and many rust-spots. The interior is patterned in a variety of orange to yellow-brown to dark-brown colors with very low metal-grain content, and only a few troilite grains. The chondrules and inclusions are not distinct.
Thin Section Description — R. Verish
The section exhibits a variety of chondule sizes (some up to 3 mm), but most are indistinct in an orange-brown, iron oxide-rich matrix of fine-grained silicates, troilite and very rare metal. Although the exterior of this meteorite has experienced only minimal physical weathering, the interior has undergone chemical weathering and many fractures arer filled with weathering products. Very few shock effects are present. Silicates appear to be equilibrated. This meteorite is probably a low-shock, well-equilibrated L-chondrite.
USA Orphaned Meteorite Images for Specimen ID# C111120

The above “Bulletin” is just one example of a way in which to record U.S. OC meteorite finds. Hopefully, this compilation will bring attention to the problem of the increasing number of meteorites found here in the USA, not only going unclassified, but even going unreported. Hopefully, some volunteers will offer to help establish a database that will document these “orphans”.

In the meanwhile, I will do my part and continue to gather data, and along with others, make a list of what we know to be “orphaned meteorites”.


References:

Bob’s Bulletin – Vol. 1 No. 1 — In my first Bulletin, I introduced the phrase “orphaned-meteorites from the USA”. I defined these “orphans” as being unwitnessed-fall Ordinary Chondrite (OC) meteorite “finds” that are recovered in the U.S.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of U.S. finds are of this type. I went on to write that these U.S. finds were being orphaned from the family of “approved” meteorites for the following reasons:

1) The lack of funding for U.S. researchers to authenticate, classify, and document/record these U.S. OC finds has resulted in several new [negative]; trends.

2) The increasing trend of commercializing the classifying of meteorites by U.S. researchers has priced U.S. OC finds out of the market, and

3) The increasing trend of U.S. researchers to turn away OC finds, even when finders of U.S. OC meteorites are willing to pay for their classification.

Bob’s Bulletin – Vol. 1 No. 2 — In my 2nd Bulletin, I went into more detail about why I use the phrase “orphaned-meteorites from the USA”. I focused on the lack of U.S.-tax-dollar-funding and why no funding was going towards the classification of these particular meteorites. In hindsight, I now realize that I should have pointed-out that there is also a lack of funding for just authenticating and recording that a U.S. meteorite has been found. This function should never be confused with “classifying” a meteorite, which is obviously way more labor intensive and costly.

Bob’s Bulletin – Vol. 1 No. 3 — In my 3rd Bulletin, I proposed the idea of an on-line database for these “orphaned” and other unclassified U.S. meteorites. This would have to be an all-volunteer effort, much in the same manner that the American Meteor Society has established the Fireball Reporting System. This database would give finders a central point to report their finds and have a field ID number issued to them. This “Field ID” would reflect which US state and date of find. The function of this database should not be confused with already established processes of getting a meteorite “classified”, which is obviously way more labor intensive and costly.

Meteoritical Bulletin: the search results for all provisional meteorites found in “USA” – Published by Meteoritical Society – Meteoritical Bulletin, Database.

Meteorites of California the list of formally-recognized California meteorite falls and finds.

“Salinas man finds meteorites in Nevada” — (© Scott Harlan 7:38 a.m. PDT August 15, 2015) — My interest in geology probably started with my father who was a petroleum geologist. We would go to gem and mineral shows together and look at all of the spectacular specimens.

METEORITES FOUND ON MISFITS FLAT DRY LAKE
(P. Jenniskens, 2015) — reports on the discovery of meteorites along
the northern shore of the Misfits Flat dry lake near Stagecoach, NV –
Published by Meteoritical Society – 78th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society (2015).

“Mystery at Misfits Flat” — (© 2015 SETI Institute) — An amateur has discovered a trove of meteorites on Misfits Flat dry lake in Nevada. No meteorites had been found at this tiny lakebed before. In an unusual twist, at least some of those turn out to have fallen less than 300 years ago.

The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.

My previous Bob’s Bulletins can be found *HERE*

If you would like to sponsor any of these orphans, and help in the funding for getting them classified, in order to get them entered into the Meteoritical Bulletin Database, then please contact me by email:

bolidechaser at yahoo-dot-com

About the Author

Robert Verish
Bob is a retired aerospace engineer living in Southern California, and has been recovering meteorites from the Southwest U.S. Deserts since 1995.
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