In 2015, David Hole was prospecting in Maryborough Regional Park near Melbourne, Australia.
Armed with a metal detector, he discovered something out of the ordinary – a very heavy, reddish rock resting in some yellow clay.
He took it home and tried everything to open it, sure that there was a gold nugget inside the rock – after all, Maryborough is in the Goldfields region, where the Australian gold rush peaked in the 19th century.
To break open his find, Hole tried a rock saw, an angle grinder, a drill, even dousing the thing in acid. However, not even a sledgehammer could make a crack. That’s because what he was trying so hard to open was no gold nugget.
As he found out years later, it was a rare meteorite.
“It had this sculpted, dimpled look to it,” Melbourne Museum geologist Dermot Henry told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2019.
“That’s formed when they come through the atmosphere, they are melting on the outside, and the atmosphere sculpts them.”
Unable to open the ‘rock’, but still intrigued, Hole took the nugget to the Melbourne Museum for identification.
“I’ve looked at a lot of rocks that people think are meteorites,” Henry told Channel 10 News.
In fact, after 37 years of working at the museum and examining thousands of rocks, Henry said only two of the offerings had ever turned out to be real meteorites.
This was one of the two.
“If you saw a rock on Earth like this, and you picked it up, it shouldn’t be that heavy,” Melbourne Museum geologist, Bill Birch, explained to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The researchers published a scientific paper describing the 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite, which they called Maryborough after the town near where it was found.
It weighs a whopping 17 kilograms (37.5 pounds), and after using a diamond saw to cut off a small slice, the researchers discovered its composition had a high percentage of iron, making it a H5 ordinary chondrite.
Once open, you can also see the tiny crystallized droplets of metallic minerals throughout it, called chondrules.
“Meteorites provide the cheapest form of space exploration. They transport us back in time, providing clues to the age, formation, and chemistry of our Solar System (including Earth),” said Henry.
“Some provide a glimpse at the deep interior of our planet. In some meteorites, there is ‘stardust’ even older than our Solar System, which shows us how stars form and evolve to create elements of the periodic table.
“Other rare meteorites contain organic molecules such as amino acids; the building blocks of life.”
Although the researchers don’t yet know where the meteorite came from and how long it may have been on Earth, they do have some guesses.
Our Solar System was once a spinning pile of dust and chondrite rocks. Eventually gravity pulled a lot of this material together into planets, but the leftovers mostly ended up in a huge asteroid belt.
“This particular meteorite most probably comes out of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and it’s been nudged out of there by some asteroids smashing into each other, then one day it smashes into Earth,” Henry told Channel 10 News.
Carbon dating suggests the meteorite has been on Earth between 100 and 1,000 years, and there’s been a number of meteor sightings between 1889 and 1951 that could correspond to its arrival on our planet.
The researchers argue that the Maryborough meteorite is much rarer than gold, making it far more valuable to science. It’s one of only 17 meteorites ever recorded in the Australian state of Victoria, and it’s the second largest chondritic mass, after a huge 55-kilogram specimen identified in 2003.
“This is only the 17th meteorite found in Victoria, whereas there’s been thousands of gold nuggets found,” Henry told Channel 10 News.
“Looking at the chain of events, it’s quite, you might say, astronomical it being discovered at all.”
It’s not even the first meteorite to take a few years to make it to a museum. In a particularly amazing story ScienceAlert covered in 2018, one space rock took 80 years, two owners, and a stint as a doorstop before finally being revealed for what it truly was.
Now is probably as good a time as any to check your backyard for particularly heavy and hard-to-break rocks – you might be sitting on a metaphorical gold mine.
The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria.
A version of this article was originally published in July 2019.
“Alien bases” may be hiding off the coast of Alaska, researchers say
An organization of civilian volunteers dedicated to the study of
unidentified flying objects (UFOs) has issued a statement based on
decades of studying eyewitness reports. According to Mutual UFO Network,
“alien bases” may be hiding off the coast of Alaska, reports the-sun.com.
say the deep waters in this region may hold something surprising. After
analyzing reports from the ship’s crew from 1945, they hypothesized
that alien objects could be lurking underwater, off the coast of the
Alleged sightings of alien spacecraft nearly 80 years ago
have become a key point in research. Members of the organization believe
that UFOs move over water and may have “bases.”
allege crew members on a U.S. Army transporter ship sailing past Island
Adak saw a massive UFO sized 150 to 200 feet emerge from the water.
Although these reports are nowhere to be found, UFO enthusiasts believe
the unidentified flying vehicles likely were used to commute to
different supposed alien bases hiding in the deep waters.
the “secret reports” of the sailors aren’t available, investigators
have taken it upon themselves to unravel the mystery surrounding the
unidentified flying objects and they believe the ocean has alien bases
that humans aren’t aware of.
Enthusiasts claim that UFOs may be
using “underwater networks” or wormholes as superhighways to travel
between points in the universe. UFO researcher Johnny Enoch added that
such objects could serve as a vehicle for aliens.
There are also
theories that other places on Earth could serve as bases for alien life.
A mountain in Seoul, South Korea is believed to be hiding a UFO,
according to Dr. Steven Greer.
An episode of the series “The
Alaska Triangle” features satellite imagery that claims to show one of
the “alien bases” in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
another researcher featured in the program showed markings from the sea
bed that she claimed could have been roadways for aliens.
the mysteries of the ocean remain unsolved, researchers continue their
search, trying to unravel the mystery of what may be hiding in the
depths of the waters off the coast of Alaska.
Enormous City-Size Comet Racing Towards Earth Grows ‘Devil Horns’ After Massive Eruption
A volcanic comet the size of a mid-sized US city has
violently exploded for the second time in four months as it continues
racing toward the earth. And following the massive eruption, the cloud
of ice and gas sprouted what looked like a pair of gigantic devil horns.
The city-sized comet, named 12P/Pons-Brooks, is a cryovolcanic — or
cold volcano — comet. It has a solid nucleus, with an estimated diameter
of 18.6 miles, and is filled with a mix of ice, dust and gas known as
cryomagma. The nucleus is surrounded by a fuzzy cloud of gas called a
coma, which leaks out of the comet’s interior.
When solar radiation heats the comet’s insides, the pressure builds up
and the comet violently explodes, ejaculating its ice-cold innards into
space through seeping cracks in the nucleus’s shell.
Live Science report:
On Oct. 5, astronomers detected a large outburst from 12P, after the
comet became dozens of times brighter due to the extra light reflecting
from its expanded coma, according to the British Astronomical Association (BAA), which has been closely monitoring the comet
Over the next few days, the comet’s coma expanded further and developed its “peculiar horns,” Spaceweather.com
reported. Some experts joked that the irregular shape of the coma also
makes the comet look like a science fiction spaceship, such as the
Millennium Falcon from Star Wars.
The unusual shape of the comet’s coma is likely due to an irregularity in the shape of 12P’s nucleus, Richard Miles, a BAA astronomer, told Live Science after the comet’s previous eruption.
The outflowing gas is likely being partially obstructed by a notch
sticking out on the nucleus, Miles said. As the gas continues to expand
away from the comet, the irregularity in the coma’s shape becomes more
defined and noticeable, he added.
12P is currently hurtling toward the inner solar system, where it
will be slingshotted around the sun on its highly elliptical 71-year
orbit around our home star — similar to the green comet Nishimura, which
pulled off a near-identical maneuver on Sept. 17.
12P will reach its closest point to Earth on April 21, 2024, when it
may become visible to the naked eye before being catapulted back toward
the outer solar system. It will not return until 2095.
This is the second time 12P has sprouted its horns this year. On July
20, astronomers witnessed the comet blow its top for the first time in
69 years (mainly due to its outbursts being less frequent and harder to
spot during the rest of its orbit). On that occasion, 12P’s coma grew to
around 143,000 miles (230,000 km), which is around 7,000 times wider
than the comet’s nucleus.
It is unclear how large the coma grew during the most recent
eruption, but there are signs the outburst was “twice as intense” as the
previous one, the BAA noted. By now, the coma has likely shrunk back to
near its normal size.
As 12P continues to race toward the sun, there is a high probability
that we will witness several more major eruptions. It is possible that
those eruptions will be even bigger than the most recent one as the
comet soaks up more solar radiation, according to Spaceweather.com.
But 12P is not the only volcanic comet that astronomers are currently
monitoring: 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann (29P) — the most volatile volcanic
comet in the solar system — has also had several noticeable eruptions
in the last year.
In December 2022, 29P experienced its largest eruption in around 12 years, which sprayed around 1 million tons of cryomagma into space. And in April this year, for the first time ever, scientists accurately predicted one of 29P’s eruptions before it actually happened, thanks to a slight increase in the comet’s brightness in the lead-up to the icy explosion.
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