Historic Meteorites (Finds)

Last update: 3 November 2013

This gallery displays a selection of aesthetic and rare specimens from meteorite finds, held by The Tricottet Collection. We here take a journey westward around the World, starting in the Great Plains of the United States of America. We then visit the desert craters of Arizona, USA and of Australia. We continue to the Filipino jungle of Bondoc to end in Siberia, near Krasnojarsk. We are accompanied in that journey by famous figures of the meteorite collecting world, such as Harvey H. Nininger, Oscar E. Monnig, H. O. Stockwell and Peter S. Pallas. All meteorite specimens displayed in the gallery have an exceptional historical provenance, as they come from the principal investigators in the recovery of these meteorites or from other rare sources.

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Wellman (c) [metbull]
Ordinary chondrite (H4)
Found in 1964
Terry County, Texas, USA

Wellman (c) meteorite from the American Meteorite Laboratory

Wellman (c) meteorite formerly from the American Meteorite Laboratory with Huss number (646 grams, TC14.5).

Wellman (c) was first recognized as a meteorite by Glenn I. Huss, of the American Meteorite Laboratory, in 1965 (ref. needed). Following the literature, numerous masses were found totalling over 45kg, the largest weighing 8.4kg (Huss, 1976; 1986). The total weight is in fact significantly higher as not all specimens are listed in the Huss catalogues. For example, stone H39.224, 646g (TC14.5) is not listed. The main mass is in fact a 10kg stone (H39.364, T. Boudreaux Coll.), also not listed! Several large stones from Huss were also not labelled (pers. comm., M. Morgan). Although Huss collected meteorites from the region for about 20 years, another collector, Eugene Cornelius, also found many specimens (ref. needed). Wellman (c) stones, with their brownish lustrous patina (i.e. weathered fusion crust), are highly aesthetic.
Distribution of masses above 500g, following Grady (2000) is: tot. 27kg, MPI Mainz (tot. 40kg following Graham et al., 1985); 5kg, NHMW; 689g, J. DuPont Coll.; 630g, ASU; 527g, GSC Ottawa. Additional stones include: main mass 10,063g, T. Boudreaux Coll., 1308g, M. Morgan Coll.; 646g, Tricottet Coll..

Figures: Stone (AML) | Stone (Cornelius) | Label (Cornelius)

Tulia - Dimmitt series [metbull] - [metbull]
Ordinary chondrite (H3-4) - (H3.7)
Found in 1917 - 1942
Texas, USA

Tulia (a) meteorite

Tulia (a) meteorite stone deaccessioned from the O. E. Monnig Collection of the Texas Christian University (1272 grams, TC13.2).

Two meteorites were found in a field near Tulia, Texas, by E. H. Childress in February and June 1917. They were discovered while ploughing and were buried at about 15 cm under the surface (Palache & Lonsdale, 1927). Other stones followed and it was later recognized that they corresponded to different strewnfields, e.g. the Dimmitt meteorite (ref. needed). Most stones from the Tulia and Dimmitt strewnfields were gathered by Oscar E. Monnig, who purchased hundreds of specimens directly from farmers and ranchers. Classic specimens therefore carry a Monnig inventory number. In most cases, they also carry a painted number from the Texas Christian University, as the Monnig Collection was donated to TCU in the early 1980s and catalogued by Glenn I. Huss and his wife Margaret of the American Meteorite Laboratory. Noteworthy, both Tulia stones (TCU #M12) and Dimmitt stones (TCU #M138) carry the same Monnig inventory number (12). This is due to the fact that Monnig incorrectly labeled Dimmitt specimens. Huss (1982) noted:

"Specimens in many collections may be incorrectly labeled as Tulia or as Dimmitt when they may belong to the other fall (...) Comprehensive study of the 430 Tulia-Dimmitt meteorites from the Monnig collection now at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth should be undertaken."

This is what Huss later did, which explains the discrepancy between some Monnig and TCU numbers.

Figures: Tulia (a) stone (Monnig / TCU) | Dimmiit stone (Monnig / TCU)

See also: A pictorial catalogue of Tulia-Dimmitt stones in the Supplementary Material of Mignan and Reed (submitted).

Brenham [metbull]
Recognized in 1890
Kiowa County, Kansas, USA

Brenham meteorite University of Arizona shale cut fragment

"Stockwell oxide outlier from Haviland" deaccessioned from the Department of Geology of the University of Arizona (5 grams). This shale polished fragment likely originates from the famous Haviland mass, once called the "World's Largest Pallasite" (also known as "The Space Wanderer").

The "Meteorite Farm" & The World's largest Pallasite meteorite

The Brenham meteorites - of the rare pallasite type - were known of Native Americans for time immemorial. Rediscovered by local farmers in the 19th century, the rocks were only considered an annoyance to ploughing. It is only Mrs. E. Kimberly, of the Kimberly farm near the town of Haviland, Kansas, who brought them to the attention of scientists (F. W. Cragin, F. H. Snow). A first analysis was made in 1890 at the University of Kansas, which confirmed their extraterrestrial origin. Subsequently the site was visited by many, including R. Hay and G. F. Kunz. The site was early on referred to as the "Meteorite Farm" due to the many specimens that were found. The largest 19th century find weighed 212 kg and was known as the "moon meteorite" by the farmers (Kunz, 1890). But it is only in 1925, during a first visit to the site, that H. H. Nininger identified a depression ("buffalo wallow") near the eastern border of the strewn field as a meteorite crater. An excavation led to numerous fragments, the largest weighing 39 kg. Almost half of the recovered specimens showed a peculiar type of oxidation, coined "Meteorodes" by Nininger. Nininger's hypothesis was that these Meteorodes resulted from the fragmentation of the main mass when impacting the ground. A detailed description of the Haviland crater excavation is given by Nininger & Figgins (1933). In the 1940s, prospector H. O. Stockwell used a wheelbarrow metal detector of his invention to systematically search for deep-buried meteorites (Read, 1965). His technique paid off and he recovered the - then believed to be - main mass in 1949 (~ 450 kg). In 2005 however, meteorite hunter S. Arnold found a larger specimen of 641 kg (Bonhams, 2007).

Figures: Shale polished fragment (H. O. Stockwell / F. Hawley / UoA) | Label (UoA) | Postcard

WANTED: Brenham meteorode from the Nininger collection with AML label / Brenham meteorite with Kunz label

Canyon Diablo [metbull]
Iron (IAB-MG)
Found in 1891
Arizona, USA

Canyon Diablo meteorite from the Nininger - ASU collection

Canyon Diablo meteorite "odd-shaped" individual from the Nininger-ASU Collection (36.5 grams). This specimen is listed in the Nininger (1950:39) collection catalogue (in background).

Summary coming soon.

Figures: Odd-shaped individual (Nininger / ASU) | Spheroids (AML / Bern NHM)

Dalgaranga [metbull]
Mesosiderite (A)
Found in 1923
Western Australia

Dalgaranga meteorite from the American Meteorite Laboratory

Dalgaranga oxidized end cut collected in the crater pit by the American Meteorite Laboratory (24.1 grams, TC24.1).

Notice: The following text is based on an article published in The Mineralogist by Huss (1962a).

The Dalgaranga meteorite crater (c. 20 m in diameter and 3 m deep) was first described by Dr. Edward S. Simpson (Simpson, 1938). His report stated that the crater had first been seen by G. E. Willard, manager of the Dalgaranga Station (ranch) in 1923. Simpson did not visit the crater and only quoted Willard who also sent him a 42-gram meteoritic fragment. Simpson described it as an iron. No one undertook to visit the site until Harvey. H. Nininger inquired about the crater's location at the Western Australian Museum in Perth in early 1959. An expedition to the Dalgaranga Station followed. New measures of the crater were taken. Neither spheroids nor impactites were found, confirming that the small crater had been formed by a violent fragmentation and not by the explosive vaporization typical of much larger impact structures. During that 2-day search expedition, only 23 small fragments with a total weight of 149 grams were found. Back in the U.S., analysis of the specimens at the American Meteorite Laboratory showed that the Dalgaranga meteorite was in fact a mesosiderite, a far rarer class than irons. Plans were immediately arranged to go back to the Dalgaranga crater. The description of the second 1959 expedition is given by Huss (1962b). Nininger (1972) indicates that he and Glenn Huss together found 207 rather small specimens during that expedition. The Tricottet Collection owns two specimens from the Dalgaranga meteorite, most probably found during one of the two 1959 expeditions.

Figures: End cut (ex. TC) | Individual (ex. TC) | Labels (ex. TC)

Bondoc [metbull]
Mesosiderite (B4)
Found in 1956, recognized in 1959
Bondoc Peninsula, Luzon Island, Philippines

Bondoc meteorite from the American Meteorite Laboratory

Bondoc meteorite formerly from the American Meteorite Laboratory with Nininger number, rare memento of a unique meteorite recovery from a remote Filipino jungle (31.4 grams, TC10.2).

In 1959, Harvey H. Nininger, while visiting the National Bureau of Mines in the Philippines, was shown a rusty lump of metallic nature. The sample had been brought in by a prospector as evidence that he had found an iron deposit. However, once the deposit, located in the middle of the Filipino jungle, had been recognized as being of meteoritic origin, the mining project was abandoned and the main mass of the Bondoc meteorite forgotten. A few years after this visit, Nininger's correspondent, John A. Lednicky, relocated the rock and sent him some samples. Nininger recognized that the meteorite was of a very rare type and thus decided to extract the Bondoc meteorite from the remote jungle at any price (Nininger, 1972).

"The last phase of the recovery was rather risky and gave us some worried moments. The day we got it on the bamboo raft for the trip down the river and across the stretch of sea, a typhoon showed up [...]. As we got near the coast of Mulanay one boat sank and we almost lost four men trying to keep the raft from collapsing..." - John A. Lednicky, in Nininger (1972).

Figures: Cut fragment (AML)

Found around 1840
Bohemia, Czech Republic

Rokitzan meteorwrong from Haidinger

Wilhelm Haidinger's original 19th century research sample of the Rokitzan meteorwrong. This specimen is accompanied by an original manuscript with cutting instructions (see transcript in our Manuscript & Correspondence Archive).

Newly Discovered: W. Haidinger's Rokitzan research sample with cutting instructions

The following text is based on the research of M. Bandli of Historic Heteorites. Modified with permission.

In 1862, Frantisek Antonin Nickerl (1813-1871), a Professor of Natural History at the National Museum in Prague, introduced a new meteoric iron (Nickerl, 1862). The chemical analysis (Iron: 89.00; Nickel: 8.84; Sulfur: 1.03; Graphite: 0.87) was performed by J. Stolba (1839-1910), a young chemist at the Polytechnic Institute of Prague. One year later, Dr. Otto Buchner published this new meteorite under the synonym "Rokycan" in Vienna's very first meteorite catalog (Buchner, 1863). The four-pound Rokitzan iron was owned by the collection of the Strahov Monastery in Prague, curated by the honorable Herr Prelate of the Premonstratenser - Hieronymus Joseph Zeidler (1790-1870). When Moritz Hornes (1815-1858), curator of Vienna's Royal Mineral Cabinet, became aware of this new meteoric iron, he invited Herr Prelate to allow a cut to be given to the Royal Mineral Cabinet for closer examination. From here, Wilhelm Haidinger (1795-1871), an Austrian mineralogist, would begin his own research on the Rokitzan iron, first sending it to be cut and prepared for analysis. Haidinger had one of his close colleagues, Franz Hauer (1822-1899), perform the chemical analysis on a deep core sample of Rokitzan. The results, which contradicted Stolba's analysis, proved that Rokitzan was, in fact, not a meteorite (Iron: 96.00; Coal: 2.4; Quartz: 1.1; Dolomite: trace). Noteworthy, Haidinger had learned that Nickerl had acquired the iron from Karl Wiesenfeld, a professor at the Polytechnic Institute. Wiesenfeld had received the mass some 20 years earlier from an elderly man from Rokitzan who had discovered the iron in a meadow near a forest, where no other similar material or slag was present. After obtaining the iron from Wiesenfeld, Nickerl sold the iron as a meteorite in 1854 to Herr Prelate of the Strahov Monastery. Haidinger soon published his findings and discredited both Stolba's analysis and Rokitzan's status as a meteorite (Haidinger, 1864).

Figures: Part slice (W. Haidinger) | Manuscript (Haidinger, 1863) | Reference (Haidinger, 1864)