Surprises In Unclassified Meteorites

Even with the diminishing supply of nice unclassified NWA material showing up at Tucson year by year I was able to find some pretty nice stones at the last show. I thought that this month you might be interested in seeing what these mystery stones turned out to look like when I got them home and lapped a window on some of them.

Oh before I forget I got these for just 6 cents per gram. Yes they were mixed into a couple big boxes of really bad material but it always pays to look anyway.

This 630 gram stone has quite an attractive shape with regmaglyphs and pretty nice fusion crust on most of it surface. It was a little bigger at one time for one surface was broken in antiquity. I lapped a small area and there are visible chondrules that are not perfect but easy to make out some of the metal is gone yet enough remains to make a guess that it is not an H type. So I maybe have another L 5 or 6. Still it is a big nice meteorite that will give me enjoyment without much worry for years to come.

We joke about space potatoes, meteorites that have nothing in their shape to make them attractive. Often they are used as cutters to be sliced and diced for selling. Well, this next offering is really shaped like a potato. It had a large broken face on one side. It only took lapping off a couple grams to make it smooth. It turned out to be a wonderful stone with tightly packed chondrules of a wide range of sizes and colors. Hard to tell from the visible metal if it is mostly there of if much has weathered out. There is not much metal. But, I got 426 grams of a really cool looking probably type 4 meteorite.

There was another space potato in the batch I bought. But, like most meteorites if you appreciate them and look carefully you will find something remarkable. Well this one was fairly heavily recrystallized. I can only see a few chondrules in poor shape remaining. But it has some very nice shock lines running through it. And the dark alteration zone of the fusion crust is about as thick as I have ever seen. There are brown bubbly spots on top of the rest of the black fusion crust. I think when this was fresh it would have really been a sight to see. The metal is a uniform scattering of very small grains there are also graphite colored spots of altered metal in the chocolate colored matrix so it is fairly heavily weathered. A nice solid crack free 298 gram piece that I can display without worry.

At 104.8 grams the next stone is almost the smallest of the 6 cent per gram ones I bought. But, it had some real surprises too. It has a very porous groundmass. Its light color and nice mostly gray fusion crust are both indicators of slight amount of weathering. There are very few visible chondrules. With the exception of the very unusually large metal grain the metal consists of tiny grains. Some troilite grains are scattered around too. There is an eruption on the surface which I would guess is another large metal grain which has swelled up during weathering is would have soon popped out of the surface completely. It is now safe and dry to remain a feature on the crusted side.

I got several other stones in the batch. Each has features that make it unique and interesting. Are there really any ugly meteorites that are not worth looking at? I bought one a few years ago near the beginnings of the NWA rush. It was listed on EBAY which had just started to get going “as the ugliest meteorite on earth”. It was a 1440 gram heavily fractured lump of stone. I have to admit it was not attractive. But, I got it in the mail and took it to the saw and cut a slice through the edge. And what did I find. A wonderful meteorite just full of easy to see light gray pyroxene radial chondrules of all different sizes. Back in those days you could still send a meteorite off to be classified. I sent a piece of this one and one other away to get them made official. The ugliest meteorite ever became NWA774 which I still have the main mass of and which Paul and I have sold pieces of for years.

So sometime you may see a guy with his head down in a box of really poorly looking meteorites. Just come over and say hi. Very likely it will be me searching for overlooked and hidden treasure. Until next time, Jim.

About the Author

James Tobin
The Meteorite Exchange, Inc. was born in 1996 with meteorite.com and Meteorite Times Magazine in 2002. Still enthusiastic about meteorites and all things related to them, we hunt, collect, cut and prepare specimens. We travel to gem shows and enjoy meteorites as much now as in the beginning. Please feel free to share any comments you have on this or any of our other sites.
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