Finding Meteorites

Finding meteorites requires a lot of knowledge and a little bit of luck. Meteorites come in all sizes, shapes and types. It is a big topic, so these are just the basics. Meteorites usually have nickel-iron metal in them and will stick to a powerful rare earth magnet or set off a signal with a metal detector. They are usually black when fresh and turn brown with age. They are heavier than terrestrial rocks because of the iron metal in them. The outside of meteorites is covered with a fusion crust of melted rock from coming through the atmosphere. In our gallery of meteorite pictures are dozens of meteorites of all types that can help you to familiarize yourself with the appearance of meteorites.

After you know what a meteorite looks like you have to take the correct tools with you into the field. Besides the most important tools your eyes, you need either a metal detector or a Meteorite Stick.

Most of the time it is a good idea to have both along with you. In addition you should have a small diamond file to grind the suspect stone in order to look for metal grains and chondrules. And of course a loupe or magnifying glass to examine the rock for these and other features common to meteorites. You will need to record the location of the find so you can return to look for additional pieces. You will need to record the areas around the first find as you hunt so that you know where you have hunted and where you have not yet hunted. A camera is useful to record the find with the stone in place. Sometimes meteorites are buried and after the detector signals a target has been found you will have to dig it up. So for finding meteorites that are buried, a pick hammer or at least a garden spade are needed. Baggies and a permanent marker make a great way to keep your finds organized until you can get back to camp.

The hunting itself is no more complicated then carefully walking with you mind focused on the appearance of every rock you pass. You can work an area with precise detail; moving back and forth in straight lines covering every foot of territory. This is called gridding. Or you can simply wander an area looking careful as you move along. Since the meteorites fall randomly and their location is of course unknown until you find them either method works. However, after a meteorite has been found in an area there is some value to using the gridding method. You will eliminate an entire area and can move on to another confident that you have completely searched the spot. Many prefer to wander an area covering it completely but without the constraints of up and back straight lines of walking. The important thing is to stay focused on seeing the appearance of every stone.

Safety is an important issue whenever hunting. Do not go alone and take liquids are at the top of the safety list. Take snacks and it is a good idea to take a flash light just in case. A whistle and a magnetic compass are not bad to take as well. Usually you will be out for several hours at a time so sunblock and a hat are essentials too. Then it is just a matter of putting in the hours. The meteorites are out there.

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Finding Meteorites
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With a bit of luck, a lot of knowledge, and some persistance most anyone can go to the desert and find a meteorite. But, there are some things that can make the process easier. Here is a bit of that knowledge and some useful tricks for finding rocks from space.
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