Deep within the heartland of Michigan, a seemingly ordinary rock, used for decades to prop open a door, has been revealed to be an extraordinary find – a 22-pound meteorite worth an estimated $100,000!
A Familiar Story with an Uncommon Ending
Central Michigan University’s geology professor, Mona Sirbescu, is no stranger to hopeful individuals presenting her with rocks, with high hopes that they possess cosmic origins. Yet, for 18 years, none had ever turned out to be genuine meteorites.
“All meteor wrongs, not meteorites,” Sirbescu wryly remarked, reflecting on her past examinations. But everything shifted when a local Michigan resident, preferring anonymity, brought forth an intriguing rock he’d possessed for three decades.
At first sight, Sirbescu recognized its uniqueness, saying, “I could tell right away that this was something special.” Later, tests confirmed the rock’s extraterrestrial nature – a meteorite with a composition of 88.5% iron and 11.5% nickel. Its 22-pound heft made it the sixth-largest meteorite ever discovered in Michigan, pushing its value to a staggering $100,000.
“It’s the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically,” a beaming Sirbescu claimed.
For further assurance, a section of the rock was dispatched to the revered Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Their conclusions harmonized with Sirbescu’s findings.
A Decades-Long Odyssey
Tracing its celestial journey, the meteorite is believed to have crashed onto Earth in the 1930s. The current owner, who obtained it in 1988, recalled a tale from the previous owner, a farmer in Edmore. The farmer described the rock’s tumultuous arrival, recalling the “heck of a noise” it produced upon impact. The following dawn, the farmer, accompanied by his father, unearthed the still-warm meteorite from its resting crater.
For the subsequent years, the rock, though out of its crater, remained obscured from public gaze, serving humbly as a doorstop and an occasional show-and-tell exhibit for school children.
However, recent tales of Michigan inhabitants discovering and monetizing meteorites stirred the owner’s curiosity about his rock’s worth, leading him to Sirbescu.
From Doorstop to Museum Piece
The meteorite, now christened the “Edmore Meteorite,” awaits a dignified place to call home. As Sirbescu explained, these treasures often end up in museums or with collectors.
When sold, the owner has graciously pledged to donate 10% of its value to Central Michigan University, earmarked for advancing the study of earth and atmospheric sciences.
In April of 2019, the meteorite was eventually sold.
According to Central Michigan University website, “He sold it for $75,000 in April to Michigan State University’s Abrams Planetarium through a donor. In July, Sirbescu received Mazurek’s check to EAS for $7,500, which is dedicated to support undergraduate student research projects. It will be put into a special account that includes donations from other meteorite enthusiasts, she Sirbescu.
“It is a happy ending to the Edmore meteorite saga and a happy beginning for a student research scholarship for EAS,” she said.
What Makes Meteorites So Valuable?
Meteorites have captivated humanity for millennia, seen by ancient civilizations as messages from the gods or omens of things to come. Today, they remain objects of fascination for scientists and collectors alike due to their extraterrestrial origins and insights into our solar system’s formation.
Most meteorites originate from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and are estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old – as ancient as our solar system itself. Their cosmic provenance makes them scientifically valuable, revealing clues about our system’s early days and the processes that shaped the planets.
Meteorites are also prized for their rarity and unique mineralogy. Only about 48 tons enter Earth’s atmosphere each year, and just a fraction reach the surface as meteorites. Their unusual metallic compositions, often iron-nickel alloy, sets them apart from typical earth rocks.
For collectors, aesthetic factors like vivid fusion crusts, regmaglypts (thumbprint-like depressions), and rare types like pallasites add to their appeal. When meteorites are sufficiently large and pristine, their value climbs exponentially. The Edmore meteorite’s 22-pound size and Iron IIG composition put its worth in the six figures.
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