METEORITE OR METEORWRONG?

slag

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Many of the meteorwrongs sent to us are pieces of slag. Slag usually refers to a glassy by-product of smelting ore to retrieve the metal. I use the term here to also include any man-made, rock-like by-product of heating things to high temperature. Thus, clinkers are a form of slag. Slags catch people attention because of their morphology. Many slags contain metal from inefficient separation of metal from the ore and, thus, will attract a magnet. Two other common characteristics of most slags are are glassy (vitreous) surfaces and the presence of vesicles (gas bubbles). Many slags have very rough exteriors, unlike any stony meteorite. Many show flow features in the glass. Some even have flat surfaces from having solidified in a contained space. Slags are sometimes used in road construction and as landscaping gravel, so they're more common than one might think.

I have not personally examined all the examples pictured here, but I suspect that most are slags. Some might be fulgurites - lithified soil and vaporized organic matter produced as a result of a lightning strike. Some might be products of electric discharges when high-voltage power lines fall to the ground. A few might actually be volcanic rocks. None of them are meteorites, however.


glassy and vesicular


Glassy exterior, vesicles. Possible fulgurite.


Glassy and vesicular

Glassy and vesicular


Glassy and vesicular


Glassy and vesicular

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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 you’ve found until you read this and this.

e-mailkorotev@wustl.edu