An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin



About once a year I find myself in a reflective mood and write on the changes of life and of the meteorite world. I guess this is going to be that month this year.

I have been working on a new book for several months. And yes, it will be another one on Meteor Crater. I just donít ever seem to be able to get enough of the place. I was thinking today about the manner in which I do research now. In the past I would go to the library. Or I would write letters to people requesting information or copies of documents. I even spent a week at the crater on vacation once to gather photos and information. Now I sit in my office and do searches on the internet. Yesterday for instance I wanted to find out about some of the old equipment used at the Crater during the mining operations. I had pictures of the old machinery with the makerís name cast on the parts. So I typed in the names and bingo. I had returns about when the equipment was made and where. The floor layout of the plant in one case and the history of the facility. I even got information about some of the prominent persons who worked there. What more can a researcher ask for. Instantaneous access to information is the part of the internet I like most. Sometimes you have to be careful about the information that is returned in a search. There is a lot of stuff that is untrustworthy. But, it has become much easier to do research. Sometimes the material is copyright protected and I can not use it without permission. But, at least I get the answers to my question. Other times the material is so old that there is no restriction upon using it. I find this latter case more often to be what happens. I am working with a topic that really begins well over a hundred years ago now.

That last part struck me this morning and I thought to myself. ď1905 was a particularly important beginning at the Crater. Barringer and Tilghman had been there for a year and a half but had not said anything really. It would soon be the anniversary of their public announcement about what they had learned.Ē I glanced over at my book shelf and saw the originals of their papers sitting there. There are centennials of a number of events that happened at the crater coming up. I can reflect to my heartís content for years to come.

It has been almost a year since my wife and I took vacation there. I am almost ready to start thinking about going back again. It May be some time away though. Till then I can keep working on my book and looking through my photographs. I donít really have a lot of Canyon Diablo meteorites in my collection. I think I have. . . .Wait a minute, I can look. I organized my collection and recorded it in database form this year while off work. I actually have only six Canyon Diablos. Of course I have kilos of iron shale, graphite nodules, impactites, iron spheroids and every other type of thing from the crater. But, only six actual meteorites.

My collection of meteorites is not heavily weighted in any particular area. My display cases however are a different story. Half of two display cases are devoted to nothing but Meteor Crater and Nininger crater period materials. I guess I collect meteorites, but display what is even more important to me.


On a not too different topic. We have been doing some work around the house lately. Fixed up a spare bedroom to become Saraís office. That will make for a little more room in my office. So I can expand the displaying of items and Maybe get some more pictures on the walls. Have been cutting and windowing more of the unclassified NWA stones. That has been a fascinating activity. You pick up a piece convinced it is just another fragment of NWA 869 and after you cut it or window it you find it is something completely different not even close to the same type. I had this happen again dramatically last weekend. It had all the characteristics we have come to recognize as supposedly indicating NWA 869 on the outside. But, when it was cut it was an H with a smooth chocolate brown ground mass, lots of metal, and no sign of brecciation at all. So what does one call it now? Certainly not NWA 869, but it will look great on display.

I have been surprised by several of the stones I have cut. Here is a sampling of pictures.


One is a piece of NWA 869 I am sure, but there is an area I think is melt on one end. There is another piece that I think May be completely a melt. And another that is so weathered on the inside that only two very tiny specks of metal remain and they are so hard to see. It was so uniformaly black in color I included no picture of it.  One is perhaps the ugliest meteorite I currently own. But, it has on the outside visible chondrules of large size. The broken one pictured on the end photograph is 7 mm across and there are many on the exterior that are 4 and 5 mm in diameter. I am eager to cut that one. But, I need a new blade. I have worn my blade out till there are gaps behind the diamond edge where the disk metal is gone and light shines through. The diamond is still there though. Maybe this weekend I can find one here in town. Or I can order one I guess.

At my previous job we received most of our paper on pallets. Occasionally one of the pallets would be made of really nice wood, oak or mahogany. I saved some of these pallets and took them apart. I always thought that I could cut and run the pieces through my router for some great display stands and bases. Think I am almost ready to start that project. I am ready to do a complete revamping of my display cases. I think it is pretty obvious that all the Meteor Crater materials should be in the same one. And I think the impact breccias, melts and glasses should be together also. But, I have meteorites, tektites, and historical stuff that has never been displayed. Boy, I am going to need more shelves, cases and hangers. Living near the Pacific Ocean I don't put out very many irons or expensive meteorites. That makes these really interesting NWA's so nice. I have no great expense involved and yet I can keep some fun interesting meteorites out for family and guests to view.



This month I present an old version of a triple beam balance. It is similar in design to the more modern four beam of last month. It is almost exactly like a three beam made by Ohaus from the same time period. However, this is a Welch. It is in need of a restoration and a cleaning. Something I probably will not do, since its useful range is only 111 grams and I paid very little for this scale. It is also unlikely that I will ever use it. But, it is a nice example of the progression of scale design.