Think you've got a meteorite?



 
Please follow these steps
Step 1. Check out the rest of this web site.  You should look through "How to identify a meteorite", "Meteor-wrongs", and our "Interactive meteorite identification exercise".  Keep in mind that meteorites are rare, so your sample is most likely a "meteor-wrong".  Most of the rocks that people mistake for meteorites fall into one of the same basic types we show on the meteor-wrong page. 
Step 2. If you still believe you have a meteorite, please contact one of the members of CML-- either Melinda Hutson or Dick Pugh depending on circumstance (see below).

Step 3.  The standard way to proceed is to send an email to curator Melinda Hutson (cmlpsu@pdx.edu) with a digital image of your sample.  If you live in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington), you can also phone Dick Pugh [(503) 287-6733].  Finally, you can send a letter to our lab address below, with images enclosed.   Melinda Hutson or Dick Pugh will be happy to look at images, or arrange to meet with you to look at your sample.  Please do not send any samples to us, unless we specifically ask you to do so. 

Mailing Address
Dick Pugh
Department of Geology 
Portland State University 
P.O. Box 751 
Portland, OR 97207-0751
FedEx/UPS Street Address
Dick Pugh
Portland State University
Department of Geology
Room 17 Cramer Hall, 1721 SW Broadway 
Portland, OR 97201
Please remember that we do meteorite identification as a service to the public, and we currently volunteer our time.  We get many public inquiries (multiple dozens per week), so please respect our time, please follow step 1 before steps 2 and 3 above, and please do not contact more than one of us
About digital images
If you send digital images, please try to get one or more images that are fairly close-up while still showing the whole sample, and in focus.  Images of ~100-700 kb should suffice. If your sample is dark, you should photograph it against a medium-colored background (such as cardboard), not against a bright background.  Do not send zipped images; rather include image files as attachments in regular formats (e.g., jpg) or embedded in the body of emails.  Also send only a small number of your best images.  Image quality is more important than quantity. 
About samples mailed to us
CML does not take any responsibility for material mailed to us.    We have not lost any samples, yet, but we can't guarantee that samples will always find their way to us or to you.  If you don't want a sample lost, don't mail it to us.  Send us digital images instead.  In any case, do not mail us your sample without return postage and packaging.
What we will do
1) We will examine your sample by visual inspection for free.  For most samples and with good quality images, we can determine whether the sample is a meteorite or not by visual inspection alone.  For a few samples, the only way for us to make a determination is to do a more detailed analysis of the sample.
2) If we determine that a sample is a new meteorite, we are prepared to classify the sample.   However, we will need detailed information about the sample.  We will also require a donation to CML/Portland State University of sufficient sample to analyze it and to fulfill the minimum requirements of the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society. These requirements can be found on the meteorite nomenclature guidelines page of the Society.  Regarding type specimens:

"Type specimens must be deposited in institutions that have well-curated
meteorite collections and long-standing commitments to such curation.
The minimum mass of a type specimen should be 20% of the total mass
or 20 g, whichever is the lesser amount. For newly paired meteorites
from dense collection areas, the minimum required mass shall be whatever
is needed to bring the aggregate mass of existing type specimens (if any)
to 20% of the aggregate mass of the entire pairing group or 20 g, whichever is less.
Larger type specimens are recommended (but not required) for meteorites larger than 400 g:
[for] 400 g - 10 kg [the type specimen recommended is] at least 5% of total mass;
[for] >10 kg [the type specimen recommended is] at least 500 g". 

As CML is science-based, we believe strongly in the importance of preserving material for future research and may, depending on the total amount of material that was recovered, request the donation of material above the minimum level required by the Nomenclature Committee, consistent with the recommended values given above.
As our time is limited, we may decline pursuing a meteorite classification for any reason.  We will only pursue research on new meteorites if we are interested in doing so. 
What we won't do
1) We do not provide "Certificates of Authenticity".  For samples we study, we will send you a letter on our letterhead stating our opinion of your sample and describing any analytical results. 
2) We will not spend time analyzing a sample that we believe to be a terrestrial (Earth) rock.
3) We cannot appraise samples for monetary value (meteorite or not).
4) We will not return your sample if it not a meteorite.  We receive far too many "meteor-wrongs" to mail them all back.


 
 
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Page last modified January 14, 2014