[meteorite-list] Final note on transplants

From: Matson, Robert <ROBERT.D.MATSON_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:42:05 2004
Message-ID: <AF564D2B9D91D411B9FE00508BF1C8692C5E88_at_US-Torrance.mail.saic.com>

Hi Mike,

> Why is this suddenly coming up now with NWA meteorites. Have not
> Sahara meteorites been coming out for more than 3 years?

And they've all been cut. However, it really isn't a question
so much of where or what, but when. The (undocumented)
meteorites could come from anywhere. A lot just happen to be
coming from northwest Africa right now. In a couple years,
it'll be somewhere else. Greenland, China, Namibia, wherever.
What is unique about our current situation is the volume of
new material coupled with today's increased demand and ease
of commerce afforded by the internet -- eBay in particular.

The number of people interested in meteorites has grown by at
least a factor of 5 in the last three years. People weren't
buying meteorites on eBay three years ago (or if my memory
fails me and they WERE, the quantity was a miniscule fraction
of what it is now). Have you taken a good look at the crap
people buy and sell on eBay? It's amazing! People will buy
virtually anything! The point I'm getting at is that we've
already seen that people have absolutely no reservations
about trying to pass off slag on eBay as meteorites. What
makes you think people won't try it with a few REAL

I'm not talking about new entire "planted" strewnfields --
no one would ever get away with that. I'm talking about a
couple stones, here and there. If people are willing to
spend $4 in postage and handling to buy/sell a $2 item, they
aren't going to turn their nose up at making $50 or $100 on
a transplant.

> I have not seen a glut of new meteorite suddenly appear from Nevada
> or Utah yet, so I dont think that anyone is running around planting them
> anywhere else. The best clue would be so watch for someone suddenly
> start "finding" lots of meteorites. This luck would be just too good to be
> true.

You've hit the nail on the head, Mike, and revealed the crux
of why I'm probably overly sensitive to this issue. I *have*
found a number of meteorites in the last year, and so have
a number of my colleagues. How many meteorites do you consider
to be "lots"? By the end of this year, our Meteorite Recovery
Foundation could easily be responsible for more than half the
known finds in our state. To someone who didn't know us and
wasn't aware of the thousands of man-hours of field work and
research, they might think "this luck would be just too good
to be true."

> Once again, for the record. I really think this topic is valid, but not
> really so dire as people might think.

On this we certainly agree. I don't think it's a big problem
at all. It's a very minor problem that I thought people
should be conscious of. Awareness is more than half the
solution to mitigation.

For the record, I want to be clear that no blame is being
placed here on anyone. Scientists and collectors alike have
only benefited from all the material imported by you, Michael
Cottingham, Dean Bessey, and anyone else that has purchased
meteorites in Morocco. Oh sure, some collectors might be
a little upset that the market value of their collections
has dropped a little bit due to the glut of new material.
But it won't last. Demand continues to increase as more
people get interested in meteorites, and the Sahara desert
is not a renewable resource.

What an acquisition!!!!

Received on Thu 25 Jan 2001 04:08:44 PM PST

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