meteorite-times-magazine
Serving The Meteorite Community Since 2002

Lunar Meteorites Beauty Revealed


This is a beautiful slice of NWA 11303 Lunar that I cut about fifteen years ago.

 

I have cut a great many lunar meteorites in the last couple of decades. Some as large as three kilos and 1.8 kilos to many lunar meteorites weighing hundreds of grams. I have sliced hundreds of lunar stones of just ten or twenty grams. Often on the small stones, I will get two endpieces and one or two slices and that’s it. I move to the next stone doing the cutting in big batches of prepared stones ready to put in the holder on my saw. There was never a problem with knowing what I was cutting. That has not been the case with one group of lunar meteorites that have been coming into my lab over the last year or so.

 

 

This is a face polished on an NWA 11273 individual that I cut in half.

One of my favorite lunars and another beautiful breccia is El Milhas 001 shown next

 

 

The Bechar lunars with various numbers have been an issue for me for a while. I was never happy buying them with the heavy terrestrial deposits that coated them. On some of the stones these coatings weighed more than the lunar material they covered. During cutting some of the lunar meteorites would fall apart revealing that they were not a single piece of a lunar meteorite but several small nuggets that had fractured apart and over time welded together by these deposits. Making the pieces appear to be one individual stone. The slices would sometimes end up with veins of the pinkish-orange terrestrial deposit running through them.

Another issue was to sell slices like that to customers. Knowing I was selling slices that were only about 50-75% lunar meteorite with the balance being earthly desert deposits. It just did not seem to be the most ethical and best thing to do. So I would sit with plyers and carefully chip off the hard pink rock from the edges of the slices and separate the areas of lunar meteorite so that was as much as possible what we sold. This was labor-intensive and annoying.

The Bechar lunars are not expensive in comparison with many of the Lunar Meteorites we have had over the years. But still, they are Lunar Meteorites. If twenty-plus years ago you had asked me if there would be the number of lunars we have today I would certainly have said. “We are very lucky to have found the tiny handful and I am grateful to have the material to cut. I would not look to see much more in the future.” That was of course not the case. They just keep being found and the material is now even in the minds of some I think being considered as always available and perhaps commonplace. But in reality, it is not common it is still among the rarest of materials found on Earth and we are not seemingly going to be back on the Moon making hand-collected material available to mineral and rock collectors on Earth. At billions of dollars to go to the Moon, I am happy to pay the prices charged by the finders of lunar meteorites. But still, if I buy a lunar meteorite from a finder I expect that it will be meteorite that I am buying, and not one one-quarter to one-third, or occasionally more, terrestrial desert deposits that I am paying for. And if I choose to still buy the material, I still don’t like that my customers should spend money on thick terrestrial coatings and suffer a lack of visibility of the meteorite material.

With all that said here was my response. I thought every time I worked with them about cleaning a batch of Bechar 003 stones. Cleaning meteorites is just part of what I normally do. I have wire-brushed Sikhote Alin and Canyon Diablo and other irons for decades and I have written about gentle cleaning methods used on chondrites and achondrites before. I am a well-practiced meteorite cleaner with many tools in my arsenal to get weathering and deposits off and recover the fusion crust concealed beneath. But I had never had to do anything much more than a scrub with a toothbrush and alcohol on lunars before.

Some Lunars before the Bechars also had the orange coating but it was never as bad in my experience. This is an example of a whole individual meteorite of NWA 11273 that also has some terrestrial coating. However, the bigger mass shown earlier of NWA 11273 did not have the coating at all.

 

 

I gave the problem of removing the thick hard pink rock encrusting the Bechar stone much thought over months and tried several methods to remove at least the thinnest areas of the coating so that some of the lunar meteorite would be visible to the collector buying it. Some of the stones are so completely covered in the coating that I could not even be sure it was a lunar meteorite that I was working on until I cut into it and saw the breccia.

 


This was a rather large stone which during the cleaning process was proved to be several very small chunks of meteorite only a fraction of the weight of the original mass.

 

I know at this point that some readers are salivating to know what I did to remove the coating without altering the meteorite in any way. But telling that is not going to be part of this article. I am old now; even though my kids keep trying to tell me that 72 is the new 52. I am getting older. When I was young and eager and thrilled a bit more with sharing, I told all my secrets and shared my many inventions and methods from my meteorite and lapidary work as well as my inventions for astrophotography. There was invariably someone out there who would several months later try and market the idea or claim it was their thought. So as a grumpier old man, I don’t share that stuff anymore. My apologies to the vast majority of kind and generous individuals in this meteorite community that I love. But the very few stinkers have burned me too many times. I was actually at a Tuscon gem show years ago and saw one of my inventions being shown to people in a dealer room with other novel inventions and tools. I overheard manufacturing and marketing discussions on how to mass produce my item with no credit or mention of me. One time I might have wished to not be the fly on the wall in the room.

So you get to see the results and know where to get beautiful cleaned Bechar 003 lunar meteorites. In a short time, others will investigate the problem if they have a similar feeling about selling hard-to-see meteorites covered with earthly rock. But for now, here are the before and after images of a batch of Bechar 003 stones.  The cleaned and other specimens of Bechar 003 lunar meteorites are available from Paul and me at our Meteorite Exchange catalog.

 

 

This is part of a batch of Bechar Lunar meteorites before being cleaned. I had tried to wire brush off the coating with no luck.

 

 

After cleaning the stones shown above and a few more. The nice lunar breccia shows on almost all the stones. I decided to forgo slicing them until the collectors of the world had the opportunity to buy the complete stones. Several have the remains of fusion crust that can now be seen. Two of those stones are shown in the next image.

 

 

There are patches on these two stones and perhaps on others in the batch that look like remaining fusion crust. The rounded corners and appearance of being individual stones have also been revealed through the cleaning.

This was a very satisfying project even if it took a huge amount of time to complete. I am very happy to offer these stones now knowing that in almost every case the buyer is getting just lunar meteorite material. Several pieces had to have a bit of the coating remain unfortunately but it was a tremendous improvement on those also. I am always amazed when I clean nasty dirty, weathered, or rusty meteorites the treasure that is concealed under all the ugliness.

Search
Meteorite Times Magazine Sponsors
Meteorite News
Meteorite Resources