Happy hunters show off their Sutter Mill meteorite “gold”

Perhaps the youngest meteorite hunter out there, 4-year-old Lorraine Logan holds a 6.26 gram CM2 chondrite meteorite she found from the California fall. It was later purchased by Greg Hupe, who took this photograph.

I never tire of photos from the California meteorite hunt and thought you’d enjoy seeing more of them, too.  Take a look at the happy faces of people who’ve found or bought meteorites that fell from the sky over Sutter’s Mill, Lotus Park and the Coloma area. The total take of cosmic booty as of May 2, 2012 isn’t much – about 28 stones weighing about 226 grams or half a pound.

On the down side, the price of the meteorites sold and considered for sale hovers around $1000 or more per gram. While this is a rare variety of meteorite, it’s not THAT rare. Lunar and Martian meteorites, which are rarer yet, typically sell for the same price.

The Bible of meteorite data, the Meteoritical Bulletin, lists 446 CM chondrite meteorites like the California fall and 258 planetary meteorites found on Earth that came from the moon and Mars. Some of the price inflation comes from hype (guess I’m a little to blame), some due to the small amount of material found thus far and some because of the notoriety of where it fell. After all, Sutter’s Mill was the site of the original California Gold Rush.

I want to thank all the hunters who’ve been so kind to share their images with me and in turn, with you.

A crushed 4 gram fragment of meteorite found in a parking lot - yes, a car had run over it - by Dr. Peter Jenniskens, SETI Institute principal investigator. The largest piece is about 1/2" across. Click photo to enlarge and appreciate this CM chondrite's fascinating texture. More of Peter's photos below. Credit: Dr. Peter Jenniskens

Robert Ward (left) and Ruben Garcia. The day after Ruben arrived in Coloma, Calif., a man approached him during a TV interview, asking if the rock he found was a meteorite. It was! He purchased the 8.5 gram stone on the spot. Credit: Richard Garcia

While snakes and poison oak have posed a few problems, the area in northern California where the meteorites dropped features some beautiful scenery. Credit: Richard Garcia

Most meteorite hunters are respectful of property and check with the landowner before walking on someone's land. Looks like we already know how this person feels.. Credit: Greg Hupe

One of the biggest meteorites recovered to date - a 17g stone found by Moni Waiblinger. From left: Dr. Peter Jenniskens, Moni Waiblinger, members of the De Haas family on whose property the meteorite was found and volunteer Lee Wadley. Credit: Dr. Peter Jenniskens

Closeup of Moni's 17g (abour 1/2 ounce) meteorite. The cube is 10mm on a side. Click photo to read Peter's excellent blog on the California fall. Credit: Dr. Peter Jenniskens

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , by astrobob. Bookmark the permalink.
Profile photo of astrobob

About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

50 thoughts on “Happy hunters show off their Sutter Mill meteorite “gold”

  1. Astrobob, I found done pieces at Lotus I think are meteorites but need varification. They’re magnetic and passed the scratch test. Do you have a regular email where I can send you the pictures of them? Thanks, Carol

  2. Hello again Bob! Great posts. This is indeed exciting.
    I have a silly question— seems like a lot of these meteorites are being held with plastic or in tinfoil. Is there a reason for this? Some outerspace radiation or….?!

    *puts tinfoil hat back on head*

    • Hi Roma,
      Thanks a lot – glad you’re enjoying them. The foil is to keep the meteorites from being contaminated any more than they’ve been already.

  3. Hi Bob,

    I know someone who has found a 2.5 gram meteorite at Sutter’s Mill. I would like to buy it and donate it to the SETI Institute. Can you help me do this?


    Glenn Davis

  4. Interesting spelling of Meteorite Hunters. :) I was wondering who the 4 year-old was that beat out all the adults during the Saturday SETI/NASA search.

  5. I have some pictures of a possible meteorite found in the water at Sutter’s Mill. Can I email the pics to you?

  6. Hi Bob,
    I haven’t had time to read all your posts but noticed what Carol wrote; “They’re magnetic and passed the scratch test.”
    Really? they’re magnetic?, and what’s the scratch test?
    I own property in the area and all I found so far was a 12 year old rattler.
    Want to buy a rattle? It’s a great way to get your partners attention while they’re searching for meteors! :-)

    • Whip,
      I’ve heard that the meteorite is slightly attracted to a strong rare earth magnet. Many other kinds of meteorites snap right to a magnet. Carol’s probably referring to the “streak test” where you scrape a rock against an unglazed piece of tile. Meteorites only give a faint grayish streak if you press hard. Things mistaken for meteorites give a red/orange or black streak. Many Earth rocks also show little to no streak. Here’s more info: http://goo.gl/mafqe

  7. Hi kevin, the 4yr old is my daughter Lorraine. We went to camp lotus on saturday after watching the news report friday night. We got to camp lotus at 12pm. My wife went with lorraine and my son and I went searching for black rocks. At about 1230 we noticed lorraine had found what we thaught was a meteorite. We took it over to the NASA researcher the in coloma and he confirmed she had made history!

    • Martell,
      I remember my younger daughter at her age. She was (still is) a great agate hunter. She can pick out rocks like crazy. I think it’s power of perception plus having eyes closer to the ground than us adults!

  8. I have one heavy little black rock that weighs 151 grams. I would like to know if it is a real meteorite, (and if so it is for sale) can I send you pictures please? :-)

  9. I dont know how to send you a pic in case I have found a peice of meteor can you give me your email address?

  10. Hey Bob! I was trying to figure the path of the meteorite and can’t find the point it entered the atmosphere. Do you know where? But most of all I’m now curious what these photos of other specimens you are being sent look like, especially if they’re not meteorites. I once carried 70lbs of rock a mile uphill and took it home only to find out what i thought was gold was actually just quartz littered with pyrite. I still keep those quartz rocks. They were once worth 70lbs of gold to me. Needles to say i now know the differences between fools gold and the real thing.

    • Hi Hesher,
      Some of the “not meteorites” are rough, bumpy-looking rocks. One was shiny and layered. Another person sent me a picture of five specimens that also looked like the real item. I got her linked up with a couple hunters, so we’ll know soon if they’re meteorites. As far as the origin point of the fireball, all I know is that it came from the direction of the sun that morning, so east.There are some hunters out there with maps showing the outline of the 25-mile long strewnfield. You could ask for a look at their maps perhaps.

      • Thanks, i found locations of pieces found and drew up my own strewnfield. I’m about two hrs away. I’ll be sure to send you pics if i find anything tomorrow.

        • Hesher,
          I found an up-to-date map of the strewnfield you might find handy. I just added it to today’s blog with a link to a larger version. Good luck on your hunt, and yes, please send photos!

  11. HI AstroBob,

    So, I live in the foothills, and I spent all day yesterday in the Coloma – Lotus, CA area…just hanging out, and doing what everyone else is doing…looking for those meteorites :) I keep reading, and educating myself….and there are discrepancies on a few websites…, I would love to send you some pictures, of what I found…because the first BIG thing, is that they all were found in the same area , and they are VERY MAGNETIC…..so any help at this point would be greatly appreciated. :) Have a wonderful day, hope to hear from you soon. :)


    • Hi Nicole,
      You can send pictures to me at rking@duluthnews.com
      One thing to know about the Sutter’s Mill meteorites – they show very little attraction to a magnet. Other black rocks including magnetite and nephrite (found in Coloma, Lotus are) are attracted to a magnet.

  12. Hi Bob,
    Was wondering if you knew of any “issues” with finding these fragments on state or state park land. Or is it a case of if you find them anywhere they’re your property, unless of coarse you find them on private property. TIA, Whip

  13. Went home Thursday, stayed at Camp Lotus last night. Found sun burns, mosquito bites and several verities of scat. Today I’ll probably get poison oak hiking through the state park. I’d say I’ve had no luck but this certainly seems like some sort of bad luck. I’m determined to find one though. I can’t wait to show it to you.

      • This is hard work! Ticks are everywhere, bitting me. They’re gross parasites. Almost stepped on a big rattlesnake too, walked right over it! I spent six days walking around Lotus and hiking, still no luck. Still just as excited to find one as I was the day I started. At first i wasn’t sure what I’d do if i found one, but now I’m hoping I’ll find a small one worth keeping. Anything worth alot of money I’d have to sell. I’m gonna be looking around there for a while. Hundreds of meteorites fell from the sky and landed anywhere and everywhere. I can’t be certian I won’t get one until I’ve looked over every square foot so wish me luck. Not luck to find a meteorite but so that I don’t get bit by a snake!

        • Hesher,
          Man, sounds nasty out there! If it turns out you don’t find one, let me know, and I’ll connect with someone who can sell you a small piece.
          Thanks for the report.

  14. Any evidence the meteor over Sutter mill was actually traveling to the northeast from the south west? Some say it may have landed south of lake tahoe.

  15. I believe i have found a piece of the meteorite and want to sell it but dont know how to go about doing so…can you help?? i have pics also that i can send

  16. Hey bob I found what I think is an iron meteorite in the Indiana Dunes in Michigan City Indiana. I was wondering if you could tell me what something like this may be worth. Thanks!!!

    • Hi Austin,
      Until it’s confirmed as a meteorite, it’s very hard to say what it’s worth. Worth then would depend on condition, weight and what its classification might be. Some iron meteorites are more common than others. Would it be possible for you to send me a couple photos along with an approximate size? I could give you an opinion on it. My e-mail: rking@duluthnews.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>