[meteorite-list] Suspected Meteor Shower Rock Determined To Be An Earth Rock

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:47:13 2004
Message-ID: <200111221901.LAA28581_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Field expert rocks meteorite theory

Scientist decides Indiana objects from inside Earth

By William Mullen
Chicago Tribune
November 22, 2001

The theory that meteorites had fallen into an Indiana back yard during the
Leonid meteor shower came crashing down Wednesday when a Field Museum expert
examined the suspicious objects.

"This is terrestrial rock. It is not a meteorite," Meenakshi Wadhwa said
after a brief but careful initial examination of the small rocks brought by
Thomas Yuran in two plastic bags.

Yuran picked them up from his Highland back yard about 4:30 a.m. Sunday,
shortly after his wife, Laura, said she heard them crash with a thud as she
and their son, Jonathon, 11, stood watching meteors streaking across the
night sky.

As word of the occurrence spread, the Yurans became minor media celebrities,
interviewed by local and national newspapers and television news shows. On
Wednesday, Yuran said, they were interviewed by remote hookup at their home
by Matt Lauer on the NBC network's "Today" show.

Several newspaper and television news crews were with Yuran later in the
morning when he met at the Field with Wadhwa, a renowned scientist who has
collected meteorites in Antarctica.

"I'm very glad you brought these here," she told Yuran, an electrician.
"It's important for science that people who believe they have found
meteorites to bring them to institutions like ours for verification. It's
one of the ways we find new materials."

Before Wadhwa met with Yuran, she arranged for him to see the Field's
impressive, permanent meteorite exhibit on the second floor of the museum.
She also laid out several meteorites in her office from the Field's
extensive collection for him to compare with the rocks he brought in.

None bore any resemblance to the small, shiny, flaky stones he recovered
from his yard during the meteor shower.

"It doesn't look like any meteorite that we know of," Wadhwa said as she
looked at the largest of Yuran's rocks, measuring about 2 inches by 1 1/2

"These are not very uncommon to find in many places," she said. "It's a
micaceous rock, metamorphic, formed in extreme pressure and heat deep in the
earth. How it happened to fall into your yard, I can't tell you."

Yuran, who came to the museum alone because his wife had to work and his son
was in school, accepted Wadhwa's verdict but still wondered if the rock
didn't somehow come from space.

"I still strongly believe that it is too coincidental that these rocks are
not strongly related to the meteor storm," Yuran said. "They did come from
outer space; I'm confident of that."

Wadwha agreed to take a small sample from one of Yuran's rocks and run a
more thorough analysis.

She assured him, however, that nothing of the size of those rocks has ever
been known to come from the debris of the Tempel-Tuttle comet, which is the
source of the Leonid meteors.

That debris rarely is larger than a grain of rice or sand, she said. When
they strike the Earth's atmosphere 70 to 80 miles up, they burn up with
extreme, bright intensity, the larger ones visible from the ground as
shooting stars.

Meteorites are meteors so big that they do not burn up entirely in the
atmosphere and fall to Earth. There is no known incident of comet debris
surviving the fiery plunge through the atmosphere and landing on the ground,
she said.

"You wouldn't expect to have something the size of [Yuran's] rocks coming
from a cometary shower," she said. "From my experience with meteorites, I'm
certain these did not come from space, but are simply mica."


Spectators Nearly Hit By Meteor Shower
Associate Press
November 20, 2001
HIGHLAND, Ind. -- Laura Yuran and her son Jonathon got a closer look at the
Leonid meteor shower than they bargained for. Yuran and her 11-year-old son
believe they were nearly hit by chunks of the space rocks early Sunday

The two were watching the meteor shower outside their northwestern Indiana
home about 4 a.m. when hail-like objects began pelting them, The Times of
Munster reported today.
As Laura walked toward the house to get her husband, Tom, a chunk of rock
slammed to the ground near where she had been standing just moments before.

"It went, 'Boom!' and I screamed," Laura said. "Part of it hit the driveway
and the second part was embedded in the ground. I was afraid to touch it."

Tom Yuran recovered two rocks, one of which he had to pull out of the
ground, the newspaper said. The rocks, which are rust-colored on one side
and silvery on the other, weigh a total of about two ounces.

Jim Seevers, an astronomer from Chicago's Adler Planetarium, said the rocks
are likely meteorites from the Leonids. The rust color is "the fusion
crust," he said, which results when the rock is seared by the earth's

"The rock probably chipped off and the shiny silver they see is the inside,"
Seevers told The Times. "It's most likely iron and nickel."

The Yurans contacted Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, whose
curator, Dr. Menache Wadhwa, asked them to bring one of the rocks for
geologists to examine.

"She said we're the only ones anywhere who have reported falling meteorites
from the Leonid meteor shower," Tom said.

After the scientists are done examining the possible meteorites, Laura said
she hopes to put them in a display case and give it to her son for his rock


Space Rocks Slam Into Indiana
Chicago Sun Times
November 21, 2001

Watching the Leonid meteor shower early Sunday, Laura and Tom Yuran got a
big surprise: Chunks of space rocks nearly hit them.

"Go get your dad--it's hitting us!" Laura Yuran shouted to her 11-year-old
son, Jonathan, as she ran for cover. Then a small chunk of rock slammed into
the driveway near where she'd been standing.

''It went, 'Boom!' and I screamed,'' the Highland, Ind., woman said. ''Part
of it hit the driveway, and the second part was embedded in the ground. I
was afraid to touch it.''

Tom Yuran found his wife and son huddled under an awning on the steps of the
back porch. He gingerly approached the larger of the two objects.

"I touched it with my finger, thinking it was going to be hot," he said. "It
was actually cold."

One piece seemed to have broken off from the other. Both pieces were a rusty
brownish-orange on the outside, and silvery on the inside, where they had
apparently split.

The Yurans have an appointment today with Meenakshi Wadhwa, a Field Museum
expert who will examine one of the objects. Wadhwa, curator of meteorites in
the museum's geology department, said the rust color could be the "fusion
crust," which results when the atmosphere sears the rock.

But she added that if it is a meteorite, it's unlikely to be associated with
the Leonid shower, which occurs once a year when the earth passes through
the orbit of the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Despite the term "meteor shower,"
Wadhwa said no actual meteorites have ever been found in conjunction with a
shower caused by a comet.

"It could, however, be a coincidental meteor fall," she said. "Meteors fall
everywhere at random. . . . Every day, 50 tons of meteor fragments hit the
earth, though most never make it to the surface."

But some do. And collectors pay up to $25 a gram for meteorites, but the
Yuran family doesn't plan on selling theirs. "I don't know if it has any
monetary value," said Tom Yuran, 51. "But, for me, it definitely has a lot
of sentimental value."
Received on Thu 22 Nov 2001 02:01:01 PM PST

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