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Rock and Mineral Identification

Polished and acid-etched cross-section of an iron-nickel meteorite showing a crystalline structure known as a "Widmanstatten" pattern. This reveals information about the cooling histories of the interiors of differentiated minor planets around the time of the birth of our solar system. The darker blebs are an iron sulfide mineral known as troilite, found almost exclusively in meteorites.

The most common question the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences gets is:

Have I found a Meteorite?

It is possible, though unlikely. In the last twenty years, only one suspected meteorite presented to us has been confirmed. It is estimated that somewhere between 18,000 and 84,000 meteorites larger than ten grams (1/3 ounce) fall on the Earth every year. Most of those will fall in water. Those that fall onto land in Michigan will quickly be concealed by vegetation. Meteorites are much easier to spot in deserts and the Antarctic. It’s still worth checking, though. About Comets, Meteorites & Asteroids: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/our-solar-system/comets-meteors-and-asteroids.

To get your rock identified-whether suspected meteorite or not:

We suggest you start by taking a clear photograph of your specimen. Include a ruler or something like an easily identified coin or other common object to show scale. Email the picture to us and tell us when and where it was found. We’ll let you know what we think.

A definitive ID can only be made in person. To do that, you’ll either need to schedule an appointment with one of our staff to examine the specimen, or ship it to us.  If you want the specimen back, you’ll need to provide return shipping. The Department and the University of Michigan accept no liability for lost or damaged materials submitted to us.

Shipping Address:
Attn: Mineral Identification
2534 C C Little Building
1100 North University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1005

Appraisals

Appraisal is a highly technical specialty outside the mission of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. We are unable to provide appraisals, nor recommend or endorse appraisers.