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Meteorite or Meteorwrong

Photos People Have Sent of Things That Look Like Meteorites to Me

I have examined thousands of photos that people have sent me over the past 20+ years. Probably for less than 1 in 500 photos have I thought, “Yes, that might be a meteorite.” Meteorites can’t be identified from photos with 100% accuracy, but all of photos below I are of things I believe to be meteorites with 50-99%% confidence. More than half these photos have come from people who found the rocks in deserts of Northern Africa or the Mideast. Only 2 or 3 were from people who claimed to have found them in North America. Several are from people who either bought them or inherited them someone else’s collection.

In the captions I state the reasons I think the rock is (or perhaps is not) a meteorite.

Stony Meteorites

Stone 01. Rounded shape with no sharp edges. Shiny fusion crust, crust has contraction cracks, and some crust has chipped off. The interior is lighter than the fusion crust. This one is rather weathered.

 

Stone 02. Rounded shape with no sharp edges. Minor chipping of fusion crust. Shiny fusion crust with contraction cracks.

 

Stone 03. Rounded shape, no sharp edges. Shiny fusion crust with contraction cracks; some crust has chipped off. Exposed interior is lighter than the fusion crust. The stone fits in someone’s hand.

 

Stone 04. Rounded shape with no sharp edges. The fusion crust is shiny, but somewhat rougher than in others depicted here. Some crust has chipped off. The interior is lighter than the fusion crust. Look closely and you can see vesicular (bubbly) fusion crust just below the missing crust. This isn’t common, but it happens.

 

Stone 05. Fusion crust covers rounded shape. The fusion crust is shiny, with contraction cracks, and chipped. The exposed interior is lighter than the fusion crust.

 

Stone 06. Rounded shape with no sharp edges, except where broken. Shiny fusion crust with contraction cracks. The interior is lighter than the fusion crust. The stone fits in someone’s hand.

 

Stone 07. This one broke apart in the atmosphere leaving edges that were rounded by ablation after the breakup but before it landed. This one has regmaglypts, but no contractions cracks.

 

Stone 08. Rounded shape with no sharp edges. Shiny fusion crust with contraction cracks. The interior is lighter than the fusion crust. The reddish spots on the broken interior are rust from oxidation of grains the iron-nickel metal.

 

Stone 09. The stone broke after or shortly before landing. (There is no fusion crust on the broken surface.) Fusion crust covers rounded portions of the stone and crust has contraction cracks. The exposed interior is lighter than the fusion crust. There are no linear fractures, swirls, or straight lines on the broken surface.

 

 

Stone 10. Rounded shape with no sharp edges. (It’s more spherical than most.) Shiny fusion crust with contraction cracks. The interior is lighter than the fusion crust. Below the large crack on the left the fusion crust is thin and what appear to be clasts are visible. (I’d like to see the inside of this one. ) The stone fits in someone’s hand.

 

Stone 11. We can’t see the whole stone but what we see looks flatter than most. Fusion crust with contraction cracks. The interior is lighter than the fusion crust. The stone fits in someone’s hand.

 

Stone 12. The fusion crust is largely intact. There are a few regmaglypts. This appears to be an “oriented” meteorite in that it passed through the atmosphere mostly left end first, causing what appear to be flow lines in the fusion crust.

 

Stone 13. Rounded shape with no sharp edges. Shiny fusion crust, crust has contraction cracks, and some crust has chipped off.

 

Stone 14. Rounded shape with no sharp edges. Shiny fusion crust; and some crust has chipped off. There are no contraction cracks in the crust. Minor regmaglypts.

 

Stone 15. Rounded shape. Shiny fusion crust, but a much rougher surface than is typical. If it weren’t for the apparent contraction cracks, I might have said “not likely” to this one.

 

Stone 16. Rounded shape. Shiny fusion crust. This appears to be another oriented stone with flow lines.

 

Stone 17. Rounded shape with no sharp edges. Shiny fusion crust with few contraction cracks. Many regmaglypts.

 

Stone 18. Shiny fusion crust covers rounded, unbroken surface. Some fusion crust has chipped off. The interior is lighter than the fusion crust. Rusty metal grains on the broken surface.

 

Stone 19. Rounded shape with nearly complete fusion crust that is not shiny in this light. The crust has contraction cracks. Interior is lighter than the fusion crust.

 

Stone 20. Unusually spherical stone with a cracked fusion crust. Interior is lighter than the fusion crust.

 

Stone 21. These photos were all sent to me in 2014. All are rounded stones with nearly complete fusion crusts, but all have some fusion crust chipped off. The exposed interiors are lighter in color. Some have contraction cracks and two have regmaglypts. Sometimes the fusion crust turns reddish on meteorites that have been on Earth a long time (lower left). 

Iron Meteorites

Iron 01. Some may disagree, but iron meteorites do not have fusion “crusts” so much as patinas. (The patinas don’t chip off, as on the stony meteorites above. Regmaglypts are common. I think the shiny spots are abrasion exposing the underlying shiny metal.

 

Iron 02. Rounded, not sharp, edges. Regmaglypts are common.

 

Iron 03. This one may not be a meteorite. I would not expect the diagonal linear feature in a meteorite, nor the hole. The regmaglypts are not as well formed. If you think you’ve found an iron meteorite, bring it to a metallurgical testing lab to determine the concentrations of iron (Fe), nickel (Ni), chromium (Cr), and manganese (Mn).

 

 

 

Prepared by: Randy L. Korotev

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Washington University in St. Louis

Please don’t contact me about the meteorite you think that
you’ve found until you read this and this.

 

e-mailkorotev@wustl.edu

Last revised: 1 October 2018