Think you found a meteorite?

The following are some general guidelines, but do not replace specimen examination by a meteoriticist. Please note, the CGS does not provide meteorite testing or appraisal services.

There are a few simple tests to help determine if what you have could be a meteorite:

  1. What color is the sample? Meteorites are usually dark brown or black.
  2. Does the sample contain vesicles (small holes formed by gases escaping during solidification of the rock)? Meteorites typically lack vesicles.
  3. Does the sample have a fusion crust? Most meteorites have a dark, ash like crust on the surface, which is darker than the interior.
  4. Is the sample magnetic? Meteorites are almost always magnetic.
  5. Is the sample relatively heavy for its size? Most meteorites are very dense, about 3 times denser than a typical earth rock.
  6. Is the sample smooth? Meteorites are typically smooth. They may have shallow depressions on the surface known as “regmaglypts”, which should not be mistaken for vesicles.
  7. Is the sample angular or rounded? Meteorites are generally angular.
  8. Are metallic specks present on a freshly broken surface? Iron-nickel meteorites typically have metallic specks on freshly broken surfaces--as opposed to entirely metallic surfaces.

Here are additional resources to help you determine if your find is a meteorite:

Gem and mineral shows, as well as your local gem and mineral club, can be great resources for meteorite identification as well.

Web page by:
California Geological Survey - Mineral Resources Program

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