Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Meteorite find!

Meteorite find!
On April 21, 2015 at approximately 4:30 in the afternoon, on a bright sunny day, at maximum low spring tide, I scooped a stony-iron meteorite out the water at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s 84 mm X 56mm X 52mm. I estimate it weighs somewhere around 500 grams.

I was taking a break from sculpting and getting some much needed exercise with a long walk along the coast line at Hartling Bay, Nova Scotia. It was a calm day with very little wave action.
Hartling Bay shoreline!

There are clear signs of glacial action in this area such as the Drumlin hills and the glacial lakes you see in this aerial photo. The glacial debris field extends through the bay and I expect that the end moraine is submerged further out into the ocean. I always keep a watchful eye out for Canadian Amber and Petrified Wood here since the powerful wave action from the open ocean drives the odd interesting specimen towards the shore.

At this time of year, the end of a long winter and the beginning of spring, the coast line along the bay is characterized by a steep stone fortified Bern and a wide expanse of sand seaward…easy walking from mid to low tide. Since it was the maximum spring low tide on the 21st that band of sand was a few hundred feet wide with only a few patches of exposed gravel and fist-sized stones at the water’s edge. Shifting sand, given that there is an east to west current in the bay buries these exposed stone patches quite quickly, so, I was intent on checking them out for any interesting stones; before they disappeared under the sand.

I saw an interesting shape and scoped out what I hoped might be a piece of petrified wood; it was similarly shaped to a rather nice piece I had found earlier. As soon as I scooped it up I noticed it was much, much heavier. 

My stone scoop!
My scoop is a combination of a twenty-inch-or-so piece of branch I found hiking combined with the wired-on bottom half of a broken soup ladle and finished with electrical tape. It allows me to reach into the water to retrieve stones without getting too wet. And, I don't have to bend down so much. The “stone” probably contained some sort of metal and as I turned it in my hand the sun reflected off a myriad of bright yellow/gold colored inclusions. Since it was salty wet there wasn’t much else of note other than it was sort of brown. It wasn’t what I was looking for but its heaviness and the inclusions intrigued me, so, I stepped back a bit onto the sand and slipped it into my back pack.

Atlantic Ocean Meteorite find!
When I have a moment I wash the salt off the few stones I bring back, let them dry for a few days, and then take a closer look at each stone. I keep the high quality stones for my collection and then return the others back to the shore on my next walk about. So, some days later, with all the salt washed off and now dry, I took a closer look at my mystery rock. I sat at the kitchen table tuning it in my hand for a long while wondering what the heck it was.

Atlantic Ocean Meteorite find, April 21st, 2015!
It was folded over at the top and towards one end and some greyish looking marine organisms had attached themselves in the fold. I thought, wow it must have taken a lot of heat to fold that over like that. I dashed upstairs and got my magnifying glass. Looking at it through the glass and seeing streak marks of molten metal I finally came up with something that made sense...a meteorite. Wow! Outer space in my hand! A billion years old! I sat way back in my chair as I realized that if I hadn’t picked it up it would have been buried beneath the sand and rusted completely away with the years.

Hartling Bay!
I figure it most probably fell into the Atlantic at the mouth of the bay, the water depth ranges from 5 to 10 meters around Hell's reef, and then tumbled and tumbled along like the other stones I find; driven by the incredibly powerful Atlantic winter waves which crash their way towards the coastline. Or, its impact could have created the bay itself. Its fine features weren’t rusted away. It couldn’t have been exposed in the water all that long; perhaps over the winter or maybe a year given the marine organisms in the fold. There are two places where it seemed small pieces had broken off, perhaps from the trauma of the impact and the immediate cooling, when it doused into the bay.

It has all the characteristic marks of the meteorite images I looked up on the internet, easily attracts my fridge magnet, and has a reddish brown patina on the smoother slightly convex underside which must have acted like a heat shield on entry.

Atlantic Ocean Meteorite find!
The inclusions must be crystals otherwise they would have melted and melded in with the outer body of the “stone”.

I’m incredibly busy preparing for my move out west and completing the Robert Hayes commission, so, I’m only now getting a chance to get this write up onto my blog. I can’t wait to show it to my teen and preteen Grandchildren when I see them in the coming weeks.