Identification of meteorite

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While visiting Wyoming recently I was shown a "rock" that several people have said is a meteorite. My question is how does one identify a meteorite compared to an earth rock. (Hoping you can help me out here Dave) I have included several photos and I can say it definitely shows signs of high heat and while its not magnetic like "load stone" a compass passed over it will swing the needle around. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
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  • #2
ProfuselyQuarky
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Meteorites have certain properties that nearly all of them share. For example, most meteorites are natural magnets. Also, meteorites (especially the ones with a high % of iron) tend to melt as they fly towards Earth. Once they land, they leave these distinct marks (I believe they’re called regmaglipts** or something like that). A meteorite’s composition includes iron and stone (mostly stone). So, people can also do composition, streak, and density tests. If all these points hit the correct mark (which I’m not aware of; it depends probably), the chances of your rock being a meteorite is pretty good, I suppose.

There are probably more definite tests that I don’t know of so let’s wait for someone else to answer.

**EDIT: Just looked it up. The correct spelling is regmaglypts
 
  • #3
ProfuselyQuarky
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The rock in the photo appears looks awfully smooth, though. A meteorite usually looks like this:
index.jpg

Maybe there are different types . . .
 
  • #4
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The rock in the photo appears looks awfully smooth, though. I meteorite usually looks like this:
View attachment 99863
Yes, that is how I picture an average meteorite. Have you looked over Daves meteorite section? it seems looks alone aren't much of a qualifier as they have a great variety of appearances. This is complicated by the diverse geology in the area the "rock" was found, let me know your take on things as this thread progresses. Here is Daves site, take a look, pretty cool stuff. :smile:
http://www.sydneystormcity.com/
 
  • #5
ProfuselyQuarky
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Yes, that is how I picture an average meteorite. Have you looked over Daves meteorite section? it seems looks alone aren't much of a qualifier as they have a great variety of appearances. This is complicated by the diverse geology in the area the "rock" was found, let me know your take on things as this thread progresses. Here is Daves site, take a look, pretty cool stuff. :smile:
http://www.sydneystormcity.com/
Yes, I've looked at it before! Isn't it great? Perhaps @davenn would be better to answer the question.

To me, rocks are rocks. And I'd probably be the one fooled if I saw iron pyrite and say that it's gold :P
 
  • #6
256bits
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"Shows signs of high heat"
Weathering can give a shiny look to a rock and peculiar features.
My first guess is that it is an iron oxide nodule.
 
  • #7
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"Shows signs of high heat"
Weathering can give a shiny look to a rock and peculiar features.
My first guess is that it is an iron oxide nodule.
Thanks, I appreciate the input. Whatever the thing is it has had an interesting existence. :smile:
 
  • #8
ProfuselyQuarky
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My first guess is that it is an iron oxide nodule.
In other words, not a meteorite after all?
 
  • #9
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In other words, not a meteorite after all?
A very distinct probability considering how rare those buggers are, This is the best place I could think of for answers so naturally here I am asking. :smile:
(by the way a little less than two hours until Russia launches from their new facility)
 
  • #10
256bits
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Thanks, I appreciate the input. Whatever the thing is it has had an interesting existence. :smile:
If rocks could only speak.:smile: the tales they could tell.

I gave only a first guess as a nay. Doesn't prove anything.
If I had it in my hand that is what would come to mind in the Sherlock Holmes process of elimination and what remains, even if extradinary ( meterorite, since they are rare compared to other rocks ) has to be the truth. One should consider the nays, along with the yays, just to be fair to the rock.

In other words, not a meteorite after all?
Never really said that - appearance can be deceiving one way or the other.
As you stated there are tests to do along the way to identification.
 
  • #11
Vanadium 50
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My question is how does one identify a meteorite compared to an earth rock.
Most identified meteorites are from Antarctica. It's not that more fall there - it's that if you find a rock on top of three miles of ice, chances are it came from the sky.
 
  • #12
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Most identified meteorites are from Antarctica. It's not that more fall there - it's that if you find a rock on top of three miles of ice, chances are it came from the sky.
That is what I understand also, very long odds of this being a meteorite but it is a peculiar piece of rock, somewhere between igneous and metamorphic. If it turned out to be a real meteorite it would probably be considered a relatively large one.
 
  • #13
davenn
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While visiting Wyoming recently I was shown a "rock" that several people have said is a meteorite. My question is how does one identify a meteorite compared to an earth rock. (Hoping you can help me out here Dave) I have included several photos and I can say it definitely shows signs of high heat and while its not magnetic like "load stone" a compass passed over it will swing the needle around. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated, thanks. View attachment 99862
hmmm a little tricky

channelled streaks like that are not uncommon in meteorites. I am not going to say "definitely is or isn't

the closest similar I could find is this meteorite sample ......
mokiA.jpg


There is a possibility that it is an iron nodule and I am leaning a little more in that direction

Dave
 
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  • #14
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There is a possibility that it is an iron nodule and I am leaning a little more in that direction
Thanks, could you tell me what tests, chemical analysis or whatever that would be used to determine its true nature ? The area of central Wyoming (near Thermopolis) where it was found is a real "geological jigsaw puzzle" so that's not much of a clue, however odds favor nodule over meteorite.
Cheers and thanks again. :smile:
 
  • #15
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From what I hear if you scratch a meteorite candidate with a white bathroom ceramic tile and it leaves grey or brown streaks on the rough side (the side of the tile that should face the wall/floor) it is some sort of iron ore. If it leaves no streak it may be a meteorite. This test of course only works if the candidate is in fact magnetic. I heard this from an acquaintance and it may be entirely false. I would assume that you would need to perform a multitude of different tests to be sure. Do you have personal access to the specimen?
 
  • #16
davenn
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From what I hear if you scratch a meteorite candidate with a white bathroom ceramic tile and it leaves grey or brown streaks on the rough side (the side of the tile that should face the wall/floor) it is some sort of iron ore. If it leaves no streak it may be a meteorite.
not a good test as many meteorites are of nickel / iron composition and are magnetic as well ( or at least attracted to a magnet)

The area of central Wyoming (near Thermopolis) where it was found is a real "geological jigsaw puzzle" so that's not much of a clue, however odds favor nodule over meteorite.
I don't know the geology of that area .... if it has any significant sedimentary deposits related to it, mudstones, clays etc
Then iron nodules can be readily found in such


D
 
  • #18
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I would check the geology of the area it was found to confirm or not if it was an iron nodule. However, I'm voting for the meteorite. Looks like whatever was in those channels may have melted out on the way down. Of course, what do I know. Get it checked at the nearest university.
 
  • #19
davenn
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I would check the geology of the area it was found to confirm or not if it was an iron nodule.
yes, that's what I already commented on

I don't know the geology of that area .... if it has any significant sedimentary deposits related to it, mudstones, clays etc
Then iron nodules can be readily found in such

and going by what I found in the link posted

it gives good credence to an iron nodule because of the number of large sedimentary basins
in the region
without knowing more about the types of sediments, I cannot comment further to if they would support iron nodule formation

Looks like whatever was in those channels may have melted out on the way down.
that is a possibility and one I also commented on much earlier in the thread

but it is also possible that they are fractures caused by the formation of the nodules in the ground ....
eg .. freeze/thaw fractures caused by moisture within the nodule



Dave
 
  • #20
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I'm hoping to get an analysis arranged for some point in July until then it's just a "weird looking rock", I will definitely post the results when I get it figured out. In reading up on meteorites, I understand that the ratios of Iron to nickle (as well as other elements) is a determining factor in whether or not the sample is "extra-terrestrial" however I couldn't find any practical way to visually make an identification without lab testing samples.
The area the "rock" was found is a conglomeration of just about every geological feature that can be imagined, including plenty of sedimentary and Tertiary fill, not to mention the "worlds largest hot spring". Thanks and I'll keep in touch with the results when I get them. :ok:
 
  • #21
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My initial reaction was iron nodule. On reflection I was still thinking iron nodule. After looking on line for nodule images I remained 95% in favour of it being an iron nodule. This site is an especially useful one: http://meteorites.wustl.edu/id/concretions.htm
 
  • #23
Fervent Freyja
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Accidental or intended byproduct from an asphalt plant? I'd take it to one of those and ask them! If it were a sample they made in their lab, then the grooves could indicate it had been tested by a machine, which is a requirement before paving any street. I imagine those samples would be just as crudely put together in the same shape. Just a thought, since they are so very similar.

Refined asphalt/bitumen
1024px-Refined_bitumen.JPG
 
  • #24
davenn
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Accidental or intended byproduct from an asphalt plant? I'd take it to one of those and ask them! If it were a sample they made in their lab, then the grooves could indicate it had been tested by a machine, which is a requirement before paving any street. I imagine those samples would be just as crudely put together in the same shape. Just a thought, since they are so very similar.
I have no idea why you posted this and what it has to do with iron nodules or meteorites ??
it's just side tracking away from the topic


Dave
 

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