by Mark Bostick
The NWA CR2 Meteorite
CR meteorites or Carbonaceous Renazzo type meteorites get their name from a meteorite that fell in Emilia-Romagna, Italy on January 15th, 1824. Being a carbonaceous chondrite, it is one of the most primitive meteorites studied by science. Carbonaceous chondrites are believed to contain matter from the pre-solar nebula. Like CM types, who CR where once part of, CR's contain about 0.6 to 2.9% carbon and about 13% water. Most of these meteorites also contain amino acids. (The Murchison is a well studied meteorite in the CM class.) CR meteorites differ from CM's as they have clearly visible iron-nickel. Light element stable isotope data preformed by NASA from Artic CR2 finds Y-790112 and T-793495 show that the CR group is also highly variable in its isotopic character.
Last year (Outside of Antarctica) there were only 15 CR2 meteorites worldwide, almost all of them, okay, all of them except the Renazzo fall, are from the Hot Desert regions. In Antarctica the US team has found 58 and the Japanese team found 7. In other words, there wasn't much to go around to museums. Very few meteorite collectors had any in their collection.
NWA CR2 at the Denver 2001 show sold for $200.00 a gram. Many people reported higher prices, and that $200.00 was a "good deal". These newly found CR2's have a typical carbonaceous charcoal like matrix and is filled with nice round orange chondrules. Some large, some small. More metal then I have even seen in a carbonaceous, and many of the chondrules are even armored! One of the meteorites that has puzzled me from the moment I seen it. (Why is there so much metal in a 2?). But the price was a little high.
Meteorite-Fossil Dealer Dean Bessey was the first to drop the price on CR2, offering a batch in December 2001 at $60.00 a gram. Less then a third of the previously offered price just, three months prior. In January, Dean offered CR2 at a "FIRE SALE", $23.50 a gram. Since then other dealers have followed suit dropping the price on their stock. The Hupe brothers, one of the biggest collectors/investors in African meteorite finds, have started their sells on eBay at $20.00 a gram, and even as low as $16.00 a gram in lots as of late March 2002.
While this has made CR2's affordable, this has also cast some concern in the meteorite community. It was Matteo Chinellato that first made the comment, "CR2 prices ruin......". Something we can all understand. Imagine the meteorite you paid $200.00 a gram for is now going for $20.00 a gram. Now imagine you purchased a 25 or more gram slice! You can now see why the next expensive meteorite purchase might be a little harder to buy. (I suppose I should note here that other African meteorite finds, such as Agoult and Rumuruti have also dropped a lot in price and that African meteorites are not the only ones to be be effected in our currant "market").
The strewfield is in Zagora, Morocco, Africa. There is no vegetation and it does not appear to be a place that would be hard to search. Hundreds of locals have searched the field, reportedly, using meteorite canes (sticks with magnets on the end), or strings with magnets tied to them. The exact ellipse will never be known, all the stones where just picked up without the recording of coordinates. The strewfield location however, is well known and at least two meteorite dealers have visited the site. Dean Bessey has provided the following coordinates: N 30 19 53 4 W 5 52 50 7 and photos of the strewfield taken by Dean, can been seen at the following webpage: http://www.meteoriteshop.com/cr2-strewnfield.htm. After the meteorites where recovered, most were brought into the Zagora/Tagounite market area for sale. It is believed that the strewfield has been picked over and for the most part is "clean". The total weight of this meteorite is believed to be about 15 kilos. (It is of course always possible that one or two of the dealers May be "holding out".)
Most of this interesting find has found itself in the hands of four different collectors/sellers. Meteorite collector Dr. David Gregory recovered the largest portion and has plans to donate around 4 kilos to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. A nice offering from Gregory and something that wouldn't be the first time for him. (Way to Go Gregory!). This meteorite is another great example on why African finds are a good thing. There is plenty of the meteorite for science to study and plenty for the meteorite collecting world. A meteorite that might have never been found without the many investments made into Africa by meteorite dealers.
This writer, and many others, would like to see this meteorite get one official name, rather then see it continue to get more NWA numbers and become possibly confusing to collectors and science, ala...DAG CO3. The CR2's from this strewfield that were purchased by meteorite hunter/seller Mike Farmer where named NWA801. It has now become the habit of calling all the CR2 from this strewfield. Which if nothing else, is better then having 500 numbers. It is now six months from Denver, and six months to Denver. You have to wonder what the price of this meteorite will be then.