An Article In Meteorite-Times Magazine
by Matt Morgan of Mile High Meteorites and
Mike Farmer-Mike’s Meteorites and Tektites

Bensour
A New LL6 Fall from Morocco and Algeria

Amhirich Omar, a Berber who was camping near the Morocco/Algeria border witnessed the fall of the Bensour meteorite.  The following is his account of the event as transcribed by Mike Farmer:

"I was out tending camels when at about 4:00 in the afternoon on
Sunday, February 10, 2002, I saw a light in the sky to the west.  The object grew very bright, but it was not moving. Suddenly, the object exploded into many pieces and passed overhead, leaving a trail of dark smoke. A moment later, I heard loud explosions like thunder and thought that it was a military jet that had been shot down. I saw the pieces fall to the ground about 3 kilometers from my camp.
I told my children to guard the animals while me and my brother search for the crashed airplane (the area is on the disputed Morocco/Algeria border, and military is common there. No one is allowed there but military and Berbers who have rights to pass just about anywhere). When we arrived at the area where we found charred black stones everywhere, many of which were broken.  We collected some and returned to camp.”

 


230 gram Bensour stone.  Notice the very fresh interior and contrasting fusion crust.  From the Matt Morgan Collection.

The stones landed in a rocky area causing many of the pieces to shatter after impacting the ground. Since the native people knew they were meteorites, the next day many inhabitants went to collect more pieces.  The meteorites fell in a line of about 5 or 6 kilometers long, straddling the Algeria/Morocco border.  Small individuals were concentrated in a single area, however the larger pieces were recovered over great distances into Algeria.


             Initially, a few pieces went to a market in Rissani, Morocco, however there was little interest and most were kept by the Berbers. The fall was seen by many people throughout the area as it passed north of Rissani on a northwest to southeast trajectory.  A handful of dealers acquired some of the meteorites in March of 2002.  The total amount of material recovered is near 30 kilograms; the main mass of 9.3 kilograms currently resides in the collection of Mike Farmer.

Classification was promptly completed by the University of Washington, where it was determined to be an LL6, S4, W0.  In hand sample, the Bensour meteorite has wonderful black fusion crust covering the glassy, grayish-white interior.  Cut and broken surfaces reveal a brecciated internal structure and an occasional bleb of metal.  One should be very careful when cutting specimens of Bensour as it tends to fragment and oxidize very easily if cut in water.