David Hole was prospecting in Melbourne, Australia, in Maryborough Regional Park in 2015. With a metal detector in hand, he noticed something unusual: a large, reddish rock sitting in some yellow soil.
He carried it home and tried everything to open it, convinced that underneath the rock was a gold nugget — after all, Maryborough is in the Goldfields region, where the Australian gold rush peaked in the nineteenth century. Hole attempted everything from a rock saw to an angle grinder to a drill to dousing his treasure in acid to split it open. A sledgehammer, on the other hand, could not make a crack. That's because the object he was attempting to unlock was not a gold nugget. It turned out to be a rare meteorite, as he discovered years later.
"It had this sculpted, dimpled look to it," Dermot Henry, a geologist at the Melbourne Museum, told The Sydney Morning Herald. "That's formed when they come through the atmosphere, they are melting on the outside, and the atmosphere sculpts them." Hole took the nugget to the Melbourne Museum for identification after being unable to open the 'rock.'
"I've looked at a lot of rocks that people think are meteorites," According to Henry, who spoke to Channel 10 News. In fact, Henry claims that in his 37 years of working at the museum and studying hundreds of rocks, only two of the gifts have ever proven to be genuine meteorites. One of the two was this.
"If you saw a rock on Earth like this, and you picked it up, it shouldn't be that heavy," Bill Birch, a geologist at the Melbourne Museum, told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2019. The researchers described the 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite in a scientific report, naming it Maryborough after the town where it was discovered.
It weighs 17 kilograms (37.5 pounds), and after cutting off a short slice with a diamond saw, they determined that it contains a significant amount of iron, indicating that it is an H5 ordinary chondrite.
When you open it up, you can see the tiny crystallized drops of metallic minerals called chondrules all over it. "Meteorites provide the cheapest form of space exploration. They transport us back in time, providing clues to the age, formation, and chemistry of our Solar System (including Earth)," Henry remarked.
Some of them give us a look into our planet's deepest recesses. There is 'stardust' even older than our Solar System in some meteorites, which demonstrates how stars develop and evolve to produce elements of the periodic table. "Other rare meteorites contain organic molecules such as amino acids; the building blocks of life."
The experts have made some educated predictions about where the meteorite came from and how long it may have been on Earth. Once upon a time, our Solar System was a spinning heap of dust and chondrite rocks. Many of these materials were eventually gathered into planets by gravity, but the remainders generally ended up in a massive asteroid belt.
"This particular meteorite most probably comes out of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and it's been nudged out of there by some asteroids smashing into each other, then one day it smashes into Earth," According to Henry, who spoke to Channel 10 News.
The meteorite has been on Earth for between 100 and 1,000 years, according to carbon dating, and there have been a number of meteor sightings between 1889 and 1951 that could be related to its arrival.
The Maryborough meteorite, according to the experts, is rarer than gold, making it significantly more valuable to scientists. It's one of just 17 meteorites ever discovered in Victoria, Australia, and it's the world's second-largest chondritic mass after a massive 55-kilogram specimen discovered in 2003.
"This is only the 17th meteorite found in Victoria, whereas there have been thousands of gold nuggets found," According to Henry, who spoke to Channel 10 News. "Looking at the chain of events, it's quiet, you might say, astronomical it being discovered at all."
It isn't the first meteorite to take several years to reach a museum. One space rock took 80 years, two owners, and a spell as a doorstop before being revealed for what it truly was, according to a ScienceAlert report from 2018. Now is probably as good a time as any to look around your yard for especially hefty and difficult-to-break boulders; you could be sitting on a literal gold mine.
About the Writers:
Maina Zaina, Writer and a Virtual Assistant at AVCreativity Studio. She enjoys media entertainment and is an avid fan of "K-Wave". She loves her job because she is exposed to different types of entertainment. She also believes in the saying "If you want to be successful, don't seek success - seek competence, empowerment; do nothing short of the best that you can do" by Jaggi Vasudev
Pamela Elizabeth, Editor-in-Chief at AVCreativity Studio. Earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Secondary Education Major in English. She loves going on little adventures alongside reading good books. She is enthusiastic about her work and ensures that her clients receive the finest service possible.