Sometimes, out of a sudden, we can all strike it lucky! And this time, it was even bigger than the national lottery! Back in 2015, one Australian man found something that turned out to be much more valuable than he ever imagined.
With the help of his metal detector, David Hole spotted a very distinct rock while in Maryborough Regional Park near Melbourne. It was reddish, heavy, and resting in some yellow clay.
He took it home because he believed it might be a gold nugget inside the rock. He used a rock saw, an angle grinder, a drill, to crack it open, and even put it in acid and used a sledgehammer, but he failed. Years later, he found out that it was a rare meteorite, after he took it into the Melbourne Museum to be identified.
Geologist Dermot Henry explained that its dimpled appearance happens when they pass through Earth’s atmosphere, as “they are melting on the outside, and the atmosphere sculpts them.”
When a larger body, like a comet, asteroid, or even a planet or the moon, is broken or blasted off, meteoroids are formed.
When a meteoroid enters into Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds and burns up, it becomes a meteor. In case the meteor survives its harrowing journey and hits the ground, it becomes a meteorite.
Meteorites usually disintegrate under immense pressure while traveling, and only 5 % of the original object makes it all the way to the ground.
The rock Hole found was really heavy, weighing in at seventeen kilograms, or 37.5 pounds. Another Melbourne Museum geologist, Bill Birch, said that a regular rock “ shouldn’t be that heavy.”
They used a diamond saw to cut off a small slice of it, and discovered that it contained a high percentage of iron, which makes it an H5 ordinary chondrite.
Also, the rock had numerous chondrules, which looked like tiny metallic droplets.
“You’re looking right back to the formation of the solar system here.’
Scientists called the meteorite Maryborough after the town near it was found, and it is the third rock of its kind to be found in Victoria.
Meteorites are very important, as they are one of the cheapest forms of space exploration that provide valuable information about the early stages of the solar system.
“Some provide a glimpse at the deep interior of our planet. In some meteorites, there is ‘stardust’ even older than our Solar System, which shows us how stars form and evolve to create elements of the periodic table. Other rare meteorites contain organic molecules such as amino acids; the building blocks of life.”
Scientists determine the age of meteorites through a process called carbon-dating and investigate their chemical composition, mineral composition, and age to determine where they came from.
Hole needed a few years to realize that he has found something special, and in most cases, people are wrong when they assume they have found a space rock.
Therefore, here are several tips to help you find out if you have discovered the right thing:
- Perform a magnet test, as most meteorites contain large amounts of iron or nickel
- Iron is heavy, so the weight might be an important clue
- On the surface, meteorites often have regmaglypts, or thumbprints, and tiny rivulets called flow lines
- Many meteorites have a fusion crust, which is a thin, dark rind created by the extreme heat and pressure it has been subjected to while traveling to Earth
Australian scientists have determined that the 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite Hole found has been on Earth for anywhere from one hundred to one thousand years.
It is extremely rare and is the second-largest out of only 17 meteorites that have ever been found in Victoria, Australia.
“Looking at the chain of events, it’s quite, you might say, astronomical it being discovered at all.”
“It was just pot luck, mate. A billion to one – bigger, a trillion to one,” he marvels. “Got more chance of being struck by lightning twice.”