2005: The year of the Million Dollar Meteorites! First discovered in August was NWA 3163,
a Lunar Feldspathic Granulite. It weighed in at 1,634 grams, making it the world’s second
largest lunar meteorite discovered to date and the largest lunar meteorite of its type. When
I first purchased it in Morocco, I believed it to be either an unusual diogenite or eucrite
due to its odd transparent greenish fusion crust, among other misleading features.
After the type sample was analyzed in the laboratory using a microprobe, I received a telephone
call from Dr. Tony Irving, the lead scientist from the University of Washington. He stated that
the stone, “…was not an aubrite…”
NWA 3163 – 1121 gram main mass.
He purposely left a long pause before finishing his sentence, all the while my
mind racing in anticipation. He finished with, “…it’s a LUNAR!” My heart nearly jumped out of
my chest with astonishment. I could not believe what I just
74.1 gram slice of NWA 3163.
heard so I asked,
“Are you sure it is lunar?” He exclaimed, “Yes, we have completed several tests that all
lead to a lunar classification.”
NWA 3163 is made up of maskelynite with smaller amounts of pyroxene, olivine, chromite and
other minerals. This exceedingly rare type of lunar rock is known from small clasts found
in a few Apollo 15, 16 and 17 samples. It is a fine-grained breccia originated from mostly
momomict olivine gabbro or diabase lithologies. Not only is the classification awesome,
but also it has neat regmaglypts and flow lines that look like finger marks imbedded on
the exterior. They resemble a handprint as if an alien being had grasped a ball of clay
and threw it to Earth, later to be discovered by a wondering nomad.
The second Million Dollar Meteorite discovered in 2005, is the now famous 1,430 pound
“King of Pallasites”, the new Brenham main mass. It was dug up on a farm in Kansas by
meteorite hunter Steve Arnold and his partner Phil Mani, in October. They came up with
a plan months before the discovery and implemented the use of new, high-tech equipment
that could penetrate the earthen depths to locate the monster at 10 feet below the surface.
In December, I flew to Texas to meet with Phil to see his and Steve’s awesome find in
person. I brought along my 1,121 gram main mass of NWA 3163 so we could play some
Show-and-Tell and get a photo of the two history
making meteorites together. Unfortunately Steve could not be there to participate in the
celebration as he was in the field hunting more Brenham stones.
Before I could view the Brenham main mass in its current location, Phil called Steve
on his cell phone so he could hear my expressions when I first saw it, and boy did he!
At around three feet across and just about as high, the hefty oriented 1,400-pounder
is simply fantastic to view in person. I was awestruck. It is simply remarkable! There
are huge olivine inclusions that are visible from the outside, some approximately 100mm across.
Equally, Phil, Steve and I were congratulating each other for our individual history making discoveries.
Phil Mani (left) and Greg Hupe (right).
There were many “Ohh’s”, “Ahh’s”, “Wow’s” and “Congratulations” being exclaimed
by all three of us. After hanging up the phone with Steve, I was able to inspect the monster
pallasite a little further along with several other relatively smaller individuals. We acted
like we were kids in a toy store. It was a very exciting experience. Not only is it
extraordinary to have two Million Dollar Meteorites discovered in one year, but also to
bring them together in one location is unheard of.
There is quite a size difference between the two Million Dollar Meteorites as can be seen in
the photo! The Brenham requires a forklift whereas my NWA 3163 lunar can easily be held by
hand. They are both impressive in their own rights. I wonder what exciting discoveries
myself and other meteorite enthusiasts from around the world will make next year!
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