Meteorites that bury themselves

September 27, 2018

I posted this in the “Space Rocks” forum on Cloudy Nights, but haven’t gotten any responses. If you have any relevant info, I’m all ears!

I recently got interested in oriented meteorites and I started reading up on some of the historically important examples, as well as some more recent finds. Some interesting trends are apparent:

  • Gross-Divina (shown above), July 24, 1837, observed fall, penetrated 75cm into the ground
  • Karakol, May 9, 1840, observed fall, penetrated 53cm
  • Kraehenberg (shown below), May 15, 1869, observed fall, I don’t know the penetration depth but it had to be dug up afterward
  • Middlesbrough, March 14, 1881, observed fall, penetrated 30cm
  • Cabin Creek, March 27, 1886, observed fall, penetrated 90cm
  • Adamana, possibly from July 19, 1912, Holbrook fall – I don’t yet know the circumstances of discovery but it might have been found on the desert surface
  • Baszkowka, August 25, 1994, observed fall, penetrated 25cm
  • Uasara, unknown date, possible observed fall, found on a path
  • Miss of the Desert, 2013, found on desert surface
  • Stromboli Stone, 2013, found on desert surface

There are of course loads of oriented individuals from other falls like Sikhote-Alin and Chelyabinsk, but these are the most strongly-oriented single stones for which I’ve found good information (if Adamana is a singleton and not part of the Holbrook fall). It may be a sort of wonky, artificial assemblage, but a couple of things jumped out: other than the ones that were found on the desert surface, all were observed falls that punched into the ground to a decent distance.

So it makes sense that the ones that weren’t found on the desert surface would be observed falls – if people hadn’t seen them fall, they might never have been found. I grew up in farm country and if you see a fresh hole only a few inches across you tend to think “varmint” and not stick your hand down there. Also, check out the dates – other than a couple in March, most were observed during the warm months of summer, when people are outside working. I assume that just as many highly-oriented meteorites fell in the winter months, or at night, and weren’t found because they weren’t observed falling and immediately buried themselves upon impact.

Does this same sampling bias affect non-oriented meteorites? I’ve only started reading about this stuff and haven’t gotten very far, but I’m curious if non-oriented meteorites from observed falls have had the same propensity for punching into the ground. Thanks in advance for any info, particularly for suggestions of books and resources I might check.

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