Specimen Identification

E-mail pme@eoas.ubc.ca and include:

  • Photos of the specimen(s), including an object for scale
  • The location from which the sample was obtained

 

Do you think you may have found a meteorite? 

 pallasite

 

Meteorite discoveries are extremely rare! If you think you’ve found an unusual rock, please use this page to guide your identification process. We’ve put together a few guidelines to help you decide if the rock you’re holding is, in fact, a meteorite. Please note, the Pacific Museum of Earth is not equipped to properly analyze the mineralogy and/or chemical composition of meteorite specimens, and therefore does not offer meteorite identification services.

Below are guidelines for meteorite identification put together by the University of Alberta:

1. Does the specimen feel unusually heavy for its size?

  • Yes = possible meteorite. Many meteorites, particularly iron meteorites, are quite dense and feel heavier than most rocks found on Earth.

2. Does the specimen attract a magnet?

  • Yes = possible meteorite. Almost all meteorites contain some iron-nickel metal and attract a magnet easily.

3. Can you see gray metal specks shining on any broken surface of the specimen?

  • Yes = possible meteorite. Most meteorites contain at least some iron-nickel metal. These fragments may be seen shining on a chipped surface.

4. Does the specimen have a thin black crust on its outer surface?

  • Yes = possible meteorite. When a meteor falls through Earth’s atmosphere, a very thin layer on the outer surface of the rock melts. This thin layer is called a fusion crust. It is usually black and has the texture of an eggshell.

5. Does the specimen appear to have ‘thumbprints or dents’ on its surface?

  • Yes = possible meteorite. Often, when a meteor falls through Earth’s atmosphere, these thumbprint-like features called regmaglypts form on the surface.

6. Does the specimen have any holes or bubbles in it?

  • No = possible meteorite. Meteorites do not have holes or bubbles. Slag from industrial processes usually has holes or bubbles.

If the answers to questions 1 and 2 are No, then the rock is almost certainly not a meteorite.  If the rock is actually a meteorite, then the answers to most of questions 1 through 5 should be Yes, and question 6 should be No.

Please refer to the following links for more in-depth information about meteorite identification:

1. Introduction to Meteorites

2. Photo gallery of meteorwrongs

3. Self-identification

4. Self-identification

5. Professional identification