Meteorites Fround From Last Friday’s Texan Daylight Fireball

For an earlier post on this fireball/meteorite see: “Feb 15 Texas Daylight Fireball

Thanks to eyewitness reports, a few great videos and some amazing weather radar images, two groups of meteorite researchers and collectors have been able to find multiple meteorites from last Friday’s daylight fireball over Texas. So far the meteorites have been found in an area near the small towns of West and Denton, Texas about 50 miles south of Dallas/Fort Worth.

Thanks to Eman for posting this update to the comment section.

“I want to confirm that several meteorites have now been recovered from this event in the vicinity of Denton, TX and the Central Texas Town of “West. TX”. Initial estimates are a strewn field a mile wide and 6-7 miles long. No major masses have been reported thus far. 20-40 stones so far, most are egg and thumbnail sized.”

The meteorites have been found by two groups. One group is being led by Ron DiIulio, director of the planetarium and astronomy lab program at the University of North Texas, and Preston Starr, the observatory manager at UNT. Local news stories describing their finds can be seen here and here.

Some of the meteorites found by the UNT team will be on display at the UNT Elm Fork Education Center on March 7. This exhibit is part of their Family Fun Science Event. There is an admission charge of $8 per child though two adults are allowed to enter for free with each child. More on this event can be found here.

The second group of meteorite finders is led by Michael Farmer, a Tucson-based meteorite collector and dealer. There is a nice video of Michael and his team discussing the hunt for this and other meteorites. According to Michael there are many other groups scouring the ground for meteorites and that number will probably only increase.

The large number of meteorites being found does not mean multiple meteoroids or small asteroids produced the fireball. The meteorites are caused by a single asteroid which broke into many pieces as it experienced the intense pressure and heat of passage through the Earth’s atmosphere at many miles per second. It is very possible that there are hundreds to thousands of small meteorites spread over an area on the order of ~100 square miles. Meteorites are named after the closest geographic feature to where they are found. It will be interesting to see what this meteorite will be called.

1 Comment

  1. The discovery team consisted of Doug Dawn, Dima Sadilenko, Rob Matson and Sergey Petukhov together with the property owners of a farm on Ash Creek. The first meteorites were recovered a day before by this team and flown to Dr. Alan Rubin, the scientific collaborator of the team on the first flight out to UCLA, who began processing them before anyone mentioned above had even arrived. The two small Dilulio specimens were claimed by those finders to be the first ones found, although this was only a publicity stunt, as Dilulio was aware of the meteorites found a day earlier and in fact the commotion about the place of discovery which brought him and Farmer there in the first place. Dilulio was never given permission to hunt on the discovery site, but claimed to have found his a few feet away from it on the gravel road adjoining it, which had already been thoroughly searched. Dilulios article was written by an intern in Dallas area newspapers and picked up by the AP, and that is how the misinformation was spread. By Feb. 19 the discovery teams meteorites were provisionally recognized under the name Ash Creek, and officially named this in mid April by the meteoritical society, the scientific body governing meteorite nomenclature. Farmer went on to find more over a larger area by avertizing in the newspaper along with his own finds, but Steve Arnold significantly trumped him in total amount of material recovered using cash as a motivator as well.

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