In 2015 David Hole was exploring Maryborough Regional Park near Melbourne, Australia.
Armed with a metal detector, he found something unusual. A very heavy, red rock lay in yellow clay.
He took it home, made sure there was a nugget of gold in the rock, and tried everything to open it. The Gold Rush reached its peak in the 19th century.
To pry open what he found, Hall tried rocksaws, angle grinders, drills, and even soaked in acid. But even a sledgehammer could not make a crack. That’s because what he was trying so hard to open wasn’t a gold nugget.
As he learned years later, it was a rare meteorite.
Dermot Henry, Geologist at the Melbourne Museum Said sydney morning herald 2019.
“It forms as it passes through the atmosphere, melts on the outside, and the atmosphere sculpts them.”
Unable to open the “rock”, Hall, still intrigued, took the nugget to the Melbourne Museum for identification.
“I’ve seen a lot of rocks that people think are meteorites,” Henry told Channel 10 News.
In fact, after working at the museum for 37 years and examining thousands of rocks, Henry said only two of the offerings turned out to be genuine meteorites.
This was one of two.
“If you saw a rock like this on Earth and picked it up, it shouldn’t be that heavy,” said Bill Birch, a geologist at the Melbourne Museum. explained to sydney morning herald.
Researchers have published a scientific paper describing a 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite they called Maryborough, after the town near where it was discovered.
Weighing a whopping 17 kilograms (37.5 pounds), after cutting small slices using a diamond saw, researchers discovered a high percentage of iron in its composition. H5 Ordinary Chondrite.
When opened, small crystallized droplets of metallic minerals can be seen throughout. chondrules.
“Meteorites offer the cheapest way to explore space. Meteorites take us back in time and provide clues about the age, formation and chemistry of our solar system (including Earth).” Henry said.
“Some meteorites offer a glimpse into the depths of our planet. Some meteorites have ‘stardust’ even older than our solar system, showing how stars formed and evolved to create the elements of the periodic table. indicates what to do.
“Other rare meteorites contain organic molecules such as amino acids, the building blocks of life.”
We don’t yet know where the meteorites came from or how long they’ve been on Earth, but we have some guesses.
Our solar system was once a rolling mountain of dust and chondrite rocks.Gravity eventually pulled much of this matter onto the planet, but most of the rest ended up being a giant planet. asteroid belt.
“This particular meteorite probably comes out of the asteroid belt. Mars When JupiterAnd then some asteroids are pushed out of there by hitting each other, and then one day it hits Earth,” Henry told Channel 10 News.
Carbon dating suggests that the meteorite was present on Earth from 100 to 1,000 years ago, with possible dates between 1889 and 1951 corresponding to the time of the meteorite’s arrival on Earth. Many meteors have been sighted.
Researchers argue that the Maryborough meteorite is much rarer than gold and much more valuable to science. It is one of only 17 meteorites ever recorded in Victoria, Australia, and he is the second largest chondrite mass after a giant 55-kilogram specimen confirmed in 2003.
“Thousands of gold nuggets have been found so far, even though it’s only the 17th meteorite ever discovered in Victoria,” Henry told Channel 10 News.
“Looking at the sequence of events, you could call it an astronomical discovery.”
This isn’t the first meteorite to take years to appear in a museum. In his particularly amazing 2018 story ScienceAlert covered, one cosmic stone survived his 80-year, two-owner, stint as a doorstop before finally revealing its true identity. rice field.
You may be sitting on a metaphorical gold mine.
This research Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria.
A version of this article was first published in July 2019.