[meteorite-list] Most Of The Meteorite Fragments From Last Month's Fall In India Are Fake

Ron Baalke baalke at zagami.jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Aug 9 18:52:44 EDT 2006


GSI, PRL get only crumbs from meteorite shower
Raheel Dhattiwala
Times of India
August 9, 2006

AHMEDABAD: The Geological Survey of India (GSI) was shocked to find that
most of the meteorite fragments it collected from villagers through
state authorities, were fake.

Apparently, most of the meteorite fragments that fell in and around
Kutch last month are either up for sale or remain undisclosed as curious
by local residents and officials.

On August 1, the GSI team collected meteorite pieces from Kutch and
Saurashtra given to them by the respective authorities. However, after
examination of the pieces, only about 80 gm have been found to be
genuine meteorite.

This, experts say is insufficient for radiation studies. At least 500 gm
of meteorite sample is required. Because of the lack of sufficient
quantity of material, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) was sent
only 5 gm of sample on Tuesday.

"For radiation studies, at least half-a-kilogram of the sample is
required. A 5-gm sample is useful only after preliminary studies are
done," a senior scientist at PRL said.

Confirming that a large part of the material was "pseudo-meteorite", ZG
Gevariya, director, GSI Gandhinagar said that only a small part of
sample could, therefore, be sent for analysis to GSI, Jaipur and to PRL.

"Localites collected the material and it is likely they may have
mistaken a large part of it to be meteorite," he said. Of the 2.5 kg
material collected in Kutch, 1.5 kg turned out to be fake.

However, experts at PRL and GSI suspect that genuine samples were most
likely cornered by local residents or government authorities. "People
have pocketed most of the samples — localites, to earn money and
officials as a souvenir," said a senior geologist at GSI.

This, he said, is "nothing new" and happens every time there is a
meteorite fall. A member of the Kutch Astronomers' Club told TOI, "One
piece was recently offered as sale to a geologist friend of mine in
Morbi for Rs 20,000."

During the Kendrapara meteorite fall in Orissa in 2003, meteorite pieces
weighing a few g were sold to tourists for $100 each. Dr SK
Bhattacharya, dean of PRL told TOI that during meteorite falls in remote
places, it becomes essential to send search teams to "build confidence
among localites and coax them into handing over the pieces to scientists".

"This happened during the Dhajala meteorite fall in 1976 also when
localites refused to part with samples because they wanted to sell or
worship them," he said. But Gevariya said that the department had not
come across any reports of people selling meteorite pieces.

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