University of Calgary

Meteorites heading home

July 28, 2009

Researchers catalogued approx. 700 pieces from Buzzard Coulee fall and return rocks to landowners

U of C's planetary scientist Alan Hildebrand and geology graduate Jeff Kriz show off some of the more than 700 meteorite fragments found since the massive Buzzard Coulee fireball crashed into central Alberta and Saskatchewan last November.
U of C's planetary scientist Alan Hildebrand and geology graduate Jeff Kriz show off some of the more than 700 meteorite fragments found since the massive Buzzard Coulee fireball crashed into central Alberta and Saskatchewan last November.

Piecing together the massive fireball over central Alberta and Saskatchewn last fall involves working on a massive three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle for researchers studying the meteorites that landed in Buzzard Coulee.

"Identifying pieces that fit together helps us reconstruct how the asteroid broke apart as it entered the atmosphere," said planetary scientist Alan Hildebrand. "We have found matching pairs that have been found as much as four kilometres apart on the ground, which tells us some fascinating things about this event."

Hildebrand and colleagues including this year's Prairie Meteorite Searcher, geology graduate Jeff Kriz, spent weeks pouring over as many as 700 fragments collected from Buzzard Coulee since the Nov. 28, 2008 impact that made news headlines around the world. The rocks were recorded, described and analyzed in the meteorite lab at the University Research Centre and included the two largest pieces weighing more than 13 kilograms each.

The U of C owns roughly half of the recovered Buzzard Coulee specimens after leading the search for pieces in agreement with local landowners. Owners of the remaining rocks and volunteer searchers were invited to view the specimens in the lab before they were taken home by the various private owners last week.

"As researchers, we are more interested in broken pieces, whereas landowners and collectors tend to want pieces that have their outer crusts intact because they are usually worth more," Kriz said.


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