Meteorite Tools of the Trade

Meteorite Hunting Equipment

Meteorites have some features in their makeup that allow the hunter to use simple and fancy tools in the search. Nearly all meteorites have some nickel-iron in them. So magnets and metal detectors are very useful in helping to find them.

But, before talking about the high and low tech tools some attention should be given to the most important tools of all. A well informed mind and well trained pair of eyes.

Meteorites look different many times from ordinary rocks of the Earth. They are for instance heavier and dark black or brown in color. They have characteristic pits or thumbprints on the surface some times. They have a melted outer coating called the fusion crust that they received when they passed through the atmosphere. Learning to recognize a meteorite and knowing the various types is the best way to make use of your natural tools.

The low tech tools begin with shovels and spades to dig them up and magnets cooected to sticks so you can tests rocks without bending over hundreds of time in a day of hunting. The rare earth magnets made today are very powerful and will suck a small meteorite up like a vacuum cleaner.

Meteorite HuntingBut, if a meteorite is buried and they often are, there is the metal detector for hunting them down. Iron is not one of the most desirable metals for many metal detector applications. If you are hunting gold or buried coins then all the iron contacts the detector sounds off on are a bother. So most metal detectors are discriminators. They are able to tell the difference between iron or ferrous metals and non ferrous metals like gold, silver, and copper. But, the meteorite hunter wants the detector to sound off on iron. So the discrimination features on the detector need to be turned off or at least turned down so the buried iron will create a response in the detector.

Unlike the magnet cane or stick the metal detector needs a lot of practice to become proficient in finding meteorites. But, once you have found one there are a couple other tools you should have as well.

A camera to record the find on the ground for history and science. A GPS unit to record the location of the find. You will want to have the meteorite classified by a laboratory and want to get a name for the find. To do this you need to record the who where and when of the recovery.