This feature is devoted each month to one of the personalities within the meteorite community. This month we are delighted to share an interview we had with Bob Walker of the Queensland Meteorites Interest Group’s Home Page (QMIG).
Meteorite-Times (MT) What or who got you interested in meteorites and how old were you when you got your first meteorite?
Bob Walker (BW) I have had an interest in rocks for longer than I would care to remember – but I recovered my first meteorite (Tenham) during a visit there in the late 1990s… My colleagues in the Australian Regular Army often laugh at me pottering around looking for rocks, cymbidiums and nepenthes when we are far far away on deployment/s both here in Australia and overseas ! I still have fond memories of finding a community of Nepenthes Australis growing wild at RAAF Scherger (Weipa) last year – no meteorites found at Weipa but acres of bauxite…
(MT) What was your first meteorite?
(MT) Do you still have it?
(MT) Do you have special areas of interest that you focus on in regards to meteorites (thin sections, photography, chemistry, age dating.. etc)?
(BW) My primary focus has been on Queensland (my home state) meteorites ! I had earlier fond hopes that my website http://www.qmig.net would spur a wave of parochial meteorite websites from readers’ home states but alas no. My current focus is on the micrography of thin-sections to keep me motivated, cheerful and busy now that I am on convalescent leave with terminal cancer… I still hope to see Christmas 2010 (and longer) and whilst I am donating my Queensland collection to the Queensland Museum – hope to have enough time to complete a variety of projects particularly micrographing enough thin-sections to act as a resource for a book that a colleague may write and to produce a Tenham meteorite medallion. Earlier interests have included hammer stones and iron meteorites.
(MT) Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?
(MT) Do you have any special approaches to collecting? (Type collection, only stones, only irons, only by aesthetics, etc. or any and all that you like.)
(BW) I have a focus on Queensland meteorites and particularly a focus on repatriating unclassified and rare Queensland specimens back home.
(MT) Do you mind saying how many locations your collection represents?
(BW) My collection is mostly Queensland chondrites with a sprinkling of the occasional worldwide assorted type/s that have interested me ie near misses and meteorwrongs that you would swear must be meteorites such as the Mendota meteorwrong – classic frauds like the Emerald meteorite also have a special place in my heart.
(MT) Is your collection displayed or kept in a dry box or both?
Yesterday (August 5, 2010), I helped the Senior Geoscience Curator, Dr. Alex COOK, set up the first ever public display of meteorites at the Queensland Museum where I have loaned half the display.
(MT) In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites?
(BW) My computer is used mainly as a vehicle to access the meteorite mailing list and to edit and update my website and also of course to email meteorite colleagues here in Australia and around the world – My website acts both as a educational and collecting resource and to channel questions about Queensland meteorites including their identification and classification although I have been asked to identify more meteorwrongs than meteorites!
(MT) Do you ever hunt for meteorites?
(MT) What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?
(MT) What is your favorite overall if it is not the one above?
(BW) Tenham is my favorite meteorite which I have described as the “signature” meteorite of Queensland.
(MT) What makes these of special interest?
(BW) Tenham still can be found within the Tenham strewnfield and there is an amazing variation of colors and features within the matrix… and of course there are still new finds to be made in and around the Tenham strewnfield.
(MT) What meteorites are currently on your wish list?
(BW) My major project at the moment is keeping myself motivated, cheerful and busy with a project micrographing thin-sections both as a educational and collecting resource… it is hoped that a colleague will write the definitive book on thin-sections using these as a wonderful resource. I wish to take the opportunity to ask readers if I can borrow any interesting thin-sections from them to have micrographed with a particular focus on “pretty” and “interesting” thin-sections as well as thin-sections of hammer stones. I will continue to update the metlist with details of new thin-section webpages and will warn readers before I delete webpages to make room for new webpages with my plan being to rotate ? ten webpages at a time.
And – if I can continue to repatriate unclassified and other rare Queensland meteorites – this can only help the Queensland Museum who I will bequeath my collection to where it will reside as a community and university resource without seeing our history and heritage chipped away into one gram ebay sales so that my grandchildren and future generations have something to see that I hope will inspire them to go on and study.
(MT) What methods have been most successful in building your collection? (Buying at shows, from dealers by mail, auctions on the web, trading… etc)
(BW) All of the above ! though I must admit to being overly fond of my ebay bidsniper!
(MT) Do you also collect related materials like impact glasses, breccias, melts, tektites, shocked fossils, native iron rocks etc?
(MT) Do you prepare any of your own specimens? (cut, polish, etch, etc.)
(MT) Have you had to take any special measures to protect them from the environment?
(BW) Some of my iron specimens require careful and regular oiling and are surface sprayed with a transparent film preventing rust easily removed without damaging the irons and even some of my high iron chondrites require a bit of a similar touch-up.