Nininger Moment #9 Nininger’s Program Of Meteorites

Dr. Nininger was good at both presenting information on his numerous talks throughout central and western United States and also at hunting them. He would sometimes stop in at a local restaurant for a bite to eat and would lay meteorite specimens on the counter so as to generate interest that would sometimes uncover new finds. He would go back to areas he had asked about specimens before and ask again, always offering a reward for a new find. His program was initiated in 1923 and by 1950 in the state of Kansas alone where only 15 new meteorites had been located in seventy five years prior, he had located an additional 40 new falls! Perhaps more important was information he was collecting with each new field investigation. He was trying to unravel some of the assumptions of that time into more factual information produced by the types and amount of new falls and finds he or those working with him had found. Some of these were the ratios of the different types of various falls, such as irons and stony type. Nininger showed that showers of stony meteorites were the rule rather than the exception.

Nininger brought to light over 222 previously unknown falls, that added up to over 2,000 individual meteorites during this time frame of hunting. No doubt that many other new falls were found as an indirect result of his program to other institutions, collectors and scientists. A Dr. Flecter Watson of Harvard once wrote in his book ” Between The Planets” Published in 1941 that Nininger was accounting for half of all the discoveries in the world at that time. In 1937 thirty one new discoveries were tabulated to have been found due to Nininger’s efforts. More than three times the amount found in any three years previous for the entire world. For all of the finds there were also the pseudo-meteorite finds that totaled some 35,000 specimens that yielded nothing. Nininger figured he had published over 150 different papers, four books and two booklets and passed out over 200,000 free leaflets in his effort to bring about new meteorite finds and information.

Nininger also stated that mankind is not ready to write a chemical formula for meteorites as some new varieties have only been encounter only once and perhaps some will only fall to our planet once in a 10,000 year span of time. Of the 1,800 varieties that had been found and cataloged at that time, some were only represented by one, two, or three falls. He also reasoned there are some that have never reached our planet at all and that we don’t have an adequate sample of the over-all increment of the meteoritcal matter and I think that is even ringing as true today as back then. Often Nininger was told that a fall was all hunted out and that no more remained. In his program of finding more specimens he would often hunt an area again and find many more new specimens. Such was the case of the Plainview where 68.2 pounds had been found at the time and it was suggested that all of that fall had been found and no more remained. However, an additional 1430 lbs were later recovered due to the efforts of Nininger and some others. Showing a lack of understanding of how to hunt a strewnfield.

Source: Find A Falling Star By H.H. Nininger

The Nininger Moments are articles or books written originally by Harvey Nininger and put into a consolidated form by Al Mitterling. Some of the items written in the moments might be old out dated material and the reader is advised to keep this in mind.

–AL Mitterling