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Meteorite or Meteorwrong?

Thank you for your interest in rocks and minerals! Please fill out the Meteorite or Meteorwrong form (details below) for inquiries. We do not take walk-ins.

Note that while our faculty are highly trained in rock and mineral identification, including different types of meteorites, we are limited to visual inspection of your samples. It is outside of our capabilities to provide chemical analyses or assay service, as it were, for rocks of any type.  Please contact an assay office or mining consultant for that service.

We have heard the following statements as evidence that their rocks may be meteorites by those inquiring:

  • “it’s attractive to magnets”
  • “it’s black”
  • “it’s heavy”

Many normal terrestrial rocks have these properties, so these lines of evidence do not mean the rocks in question are extraterrestrial in origin.  One thing to recognize is that we live in what was, until geologically recently, a volcanically active region, and a great deal of heavy, dense, black/dark, and ferrous (i.e., attractive to magnets) igneous rock was produced and spread out over our region. As lava rocks basalt in the technical term, you can see remnants of this from the hills above Mountain Home to the canyons of the Snake, Bruneau, Owyhee, Malheur, and Payette rivers.  Odds are great that the rock you are interested in learning about is sourced from such a deposit.

That does not detract from your find, or interest in the natural world.  However, in order to prevent a meteorite shower of samples arriving in our offices and lots of time spent on the phone, we have a form to fill out to send in photos and information for review.

Take several good quality photos using some standard item for scale (such as a quarter or ruler).  Take the photos up close, if possible, and from different perspectives or angles. Submit via our online form at https://www.boisestate.edu/earth/meteorite-or-meteorwrong/. 

If you have more questions regarding your sample, or questions regarding proper identification of a meteorite, please check out this page at Arizona State University https://askanearthspacescientist.asu.edu/identifying-meteorites.  ASU has a highly regarded planetary geology program, and has faculty with research interests in that area.

Washington University of St. Louis also has a page with photos and explanations of why the many rocks submitted to them are meteowrongs.

https://sites.wustl.edu/meteoritesite/

ALS Global is a resource to have your specimen professionally analyzed.

https://www.alsglobal.com/

There is a nice display of meteorites at the Idaho Museum Mineral & Geology, at the Old Penitentiary in east Boise. Visit the site here for more information. 

Aginhank you for your interest!