What are Meteorites Worth?

By · April 7, 2010 · Filed in Meteorite Terminology, Meteorites, Value of Meteorites · Comments Off on What are Meteorites Worth?

When looking to begin collecting meteorites, many people want to know the approximate value or worth of differing types of meteorites before they purchase or sell their finds. Meteorites have differing values, dependent upon several factors.

Most meteorites are sold by weight, using the metric gram. The average cost to buy one is approximately $1 per gram. It is common to see meteorites priced between $.50 and $2 per gram; however, some have been known to sell for more than that. Rare finds that originated on the moon or Mars may sell for up to $1,000 per gram, depending on some factors.

There are three main types of meteorite classifications. The first, stone meteorites are the most common of all, making up approximately eighty percent of all falls or finds. Stony iron and Iron meteorites are less common, with stony iron making up about 1.5 percent and iron meteorites making up approximately five percent of all falls or finds. The rarity of the meteorite also affects its pricing. Common meteorites cost and sell for less; rare meteorites cost and sell for more.

In addition to the weight, classification, and rarity of the meteorite, there are some important factors that are considered in pricing a meteorite. They include: its place of origin, whether it is well-preserved or not, and how aesthetically pleasing it is to look at, the quantity of the type already available on the market, the meteorite’s historical value, if it is of high interest in the scientific community, and how much money the seller needs to make to cover his or her costs associated with hunting, finding, classifying, and selling of the meteorite. Additionally, its pricing can be affected by the presence of fusion crust and regmaglypts (small “thumbprint”-like indentations, scoops, or ridges on the meteorite). If the fusion crust in present and intact, the meteorite is more valuable. In regards to the regmaglypts, the deeper the “thumbprints,” the greater the value.

To learn more about the value and pricing of meteorites, you can visit these places online:


Here’s to the Perfect Hunt!

Favorable Meteorite Hunting Areas

By · March 18, 2010 · Filed in Favorable Hunting Areas · Comments Off on Favorable Meteorite Hunting Areas

When hunting for meteorites, there are some areas that are better than others. To make the best use of your time and increase your chances of making a find, you want to be sure to focus on areas that give you a better chance of finding a meteorite. The following information will help you know where to start your search and head you in the right direction for making a great discovery!

First, you want to look for an area designated as a strewnfield, which is an area where a number of meteorites have been recovered. You can locate strewnfields using various maps or other guides, with a number of them available online. Additionally, an excellent resource that you might want to read before exploring for meteorites is: Rocks from Space: Meteorites and Meteorite Hunters by O. Richard Norton. It includes a variety of information and maps that can help you decide upon a location to hunt, as well as prepare you for what to look for.

When you have identified a strewnfield that interests you, there are some other land features that you want to look for to make your hunting easier.  To help you determine the landforms in your area, Geology.com has a variety of detailed maps that can help at: http://geology.com/world/.  Another place for you to seek is your local conservation office. By reviewing topographical maps, you can look for more favorable exploration areas.

One kind of area you want to hunt in is one that has limited or no vegetation for you to have to contend with. Vegetation can get in the way of your hunting and you do not want to hack away any plant growth while you are hunting.

You also want to explore flat terrain, preferably with few black rocks. Flat terrain is easier to traverse, without having to tire yourself out from climbing up and down all day. In addition to being able to conserve your energy during the hunt, there is another reason for this. If the terrain is relatively flat, but you see an area that appears to be disturbed in some way, either with a hole or hills that you would not expect to see on the flat terrain, you might have possibly stumbled on a site containing a meteorite. The reason you want to choose areas with few black rocks is because meteorites are covered with fusion crust, which developed during their entry into Earth’s atmosphere. Fusion crust is black in color, so if you are hunting in an area littered with black rocks, then it will take longer to visually discriminate between Earth rocks and possible meteorites.

You may also want to stick to deserts when hunting for meteorites, since the weather conditions are drier, limiting the incidence of rust that can occur on meteorites containing metal. There are a number of deserts that you can explore in the southwest of the United States, making that region a good area for hunting meteorites. Deserts are also good hunting areas because there is usually a lower population in those areas. Hunting in places with more dense population limits your chances of making a find.

So, to summarize, here are the types of areas you will find to be more favorable for your next (or first) meteorite hunting trip:

  • Strewnfields (a greater chance of finding a meteorite since several may have been deposited in this area)
  • Flat terrain (easier to traverse and find disturbed areas)
  • Limited vegetation (easier to find possible meteorites, without plant-life to get in the way)
  • Small amount of black-colored rocks (which can be mistaken for meteorites)
  • Desert location (dry weather limits rust and lower population areas, such as deserts, increases your chances of finding a meteorite)

Here’s to the perfect hunt!

Meteorite ID

By · March 17, 2010 · Filed in Meteorite Identification · 3 Comments »

You are hunting and you find what you think is a meteorite. You want to be sure that you do not have a meteorwrong, so what criteria can you use to help you identify the object you have found? I am sharing some of that information with you so that you can try to deduce for yourself whether your find is something great, a meteorite, or something more common, like an terrestrial (Earth) rock.

Generally-speaking, a meteorite is a piece of stone, iron, or a mixture of stone and iron that has fallen from outer space and landed on Earth. They may come from various locations in space, including the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Sometimes they come from parts that used to be planets or asteroids. Other times, they come from the Moon, Mars, or comets.

When testing your find to see if it is a meteorite, you need your eyes and hands, and a good-quality magnet from a hardware store (a rare earth magnet is the best for testing),  and a little bit of important information.

First, take your magnet and see if it sticks to the suspected meteorite(even stony meteorites have a high content of iron).If the magnet doesn’t stick you probably don’t have a meteorite. But remember all meteorites rocks are magnetic but not all magnetic rocks are meteorites. Now feel the weight of your find. If it feels heavier and more dense than most terrestrial rocks you have encountered, this is an indicator that you might have a meteorite. Iron meteorites are approximately four times as heavy as a terrestrial rock of the same size; stone meteorites about three times as heavy.

Next, move onto a visual inspection. Meteorites have several noticeable features, such as:

  • A fusion crust: Fusion crust occur as the meteoroid was burning in the Earth’s atmosphere through a process called albation. Fusion crusts very somewhat because of the meteorites different materials.Fresh fusion crusts are a matte (dull) black, but some fresh meteorites have a fusion crust that looks like shiny black glass. Older meteorites that have been here long enough to weather or oxidize, the fusion crust turns from black to either brown, yellow, orange, or reddish appearance called Patina and will eventually disappear altogether. Many people think the crust as being like the skin on an orange, but it is much more like the skin on an apple, very thin.
  • Thumbprint – type markings called Regmaglypts caused by albation.(not all meteorites have these)
  • Flowlines caused by melting or albation.(not all meteorites have these)
  • Metallic flakes if the inside of an ordinary chondrite is visible.
  • Small, grainy spheres called Chondrules. (found in most stony meteorites)
  • Rust on meteorites that have been exposed to Earth’s elements for a long period of time.

Next, meteorwrongs  have several noticeable features, such as:

  • Small holes, called vesicles (these are often found on the surface of volcanic rocks, caused by gas as it escaped when the lava was cooling.
  • If the rock feels light it is not a meteorite.
  • Sharp pointed features (unless broken) are not found on meteorites.
  • A type of rock that people often mistake for meteorites are those composed of iron oxides like hematite and magnetite because such rocks are denser than most common rocks. Hematite and magnetite can be recognized by the streak test. Streak is a word referring to the color of the streak that a rock makes when it is scraped against the unglazed underside of an ceramic toilet tank lid or, the unglazed bottom of a white coffee cup. Hematite makes a rust or blood-red colored streak; magnetite makes a dark gray streak. Hematite and magnetite streaks are easy to make, almost like chalk on a sidewalk. Meteorites gives NO streak or only a weak grayish streak, but only if you press hard.

If you have completed these three tests, magnetic, weight, and visual and you are still unsure of your find, you may want to look into purchasing some additional resources. I have these books available in the Book Section of my online store that can help you with your identification:

  • Rocks from Space: Meteorites and Meteorite Hunters (by O. Richard Norton)
  • Field Guide to Meteors and Meteorites (by O. Richard Norton)
  • Meteorites (by Caroline Smith and Sara S. Russell)
  • Falling Stars: A Guide to Meteors and Meteorites (by Mike D. Reynolds)
  • Souvenirs from Space: The Oscar E. Monnig Meteorite Gallery (by Judy Alter)
  • Meteors and Meteorites (by Gregory Vogt)

Here’s to the perfect hunt!

Meteorite Terminology

By · March 5, 2010 · Filed in Meteorite Terminology · Comments Off on Meteorite Terminology

Ok, now that we know what a meteorite is and what it is basically made of lets get some terminology down. So here are some terms and definitions that you will need to know.


  • Meteoroid – a space rock that has the potential to cross Earths path.
  • Meteor – a meteoroid as it passes through the Earths atmosphere.”Shooting Star”
  • Meteorite – a meteor that does not burn up in the atmosphere and falls to the Earth.
  • Meteorwrong – a terrestrial rock or man made junk that you mistake for a meteorite.
  •  Fusion Crust –  thin glassy coating on the outside of a meteorite caused by the atmosphere melting it.
  • Desert Varnish – a dark coating on exposed rocks due to the sun and elements over a long period of time.(sometimes mistaken for fusion crust)
  • Ablation – the process of  the outside meterial of a meteorite melting away as it travels through the Earths atmosphere.
  • Oriented Stone – a meteorite that did not tumble as it traveled through the atmosphere.
  • Regmaglypts or Thumb Print – are thumbprint like impressions on the outside of a meteorite caused by ablation
  • Hammer Stone – a meteorite that hits a man made object. Very rare.
  • Pallasites – are a type of stony-iron meteorite with beautiful olivine crystals.
  • Olivine Crystals – found in some stony-iron meteorites is usually named for its typically olive-green color.
  • Peridot – cut gem quality olivine crystals.
  • Terrestrial Rock – a rock that did not come from outer space and was formed here on earth.
  • Hemanite and Magnetite– magnetic terrestrial rocks commonly mistaken for meteorites.(meteorwrongs)
  • Strewnfield – when a large meteoroid enters the atmosphere it often fragments into many pieces before touching the ground due to thermal shock. This mid-air explosion causes the dispersion of the material over a large oval-shaped area.
  • Bolide – a very large meteor which is sometimes accompanied by loud sonic booms.
  • Fall – a meteorite which was witnessed to fall to Earth’s surface.
  • Find – a meteorite which has been found and has no record of being witnessed to fall to Earth’s surface.
  • Matrix – the embedding medium between chondrules, metallic iron grains etc.

Here’s to the perfect hunt!