First fragment of Chelyabinsk meteorite recovered from bottom of Lake Chebarkul

Fragment of the Chelyabinsk meteorite said to have been retrieved from the bottom of Lake Cherbarkul today. It weighs about 2.2 pounds (1 kg). Credit: UfFU press service

Thousands of pieces of the Chelyabinsk meteorite have been found since the monster fireball torched the sky over the Ural Mountains region of Russia on Feb. 15.

Many were small button-sized pieces. with a smattering of larger stones. The largest to date weighs 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg) and was picked up by a resident near the village of Timiryazevsky not far from Chelyabinsk. The big prize however still lurks at the bottom of Chebarkul Lake, and today they found a piece of the beast.

The 20-foot (6-meter) hole in Cherbarkul Lake where a chunk of the Chelyabinsk meteorite struck on Feb. 15, 2013. The lake is located 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Chelyabinsk. Credit: AP

Divers working together with scientists at the Ural Federal University (UrFU) fished up a fragment from the muck at the bottom of the lake earlier today. You’ll recall this is where chunk of the meteorite punched a 20-foot (6-meter) hole through the ice.

Viktor Grokhovsky, leader of the UfFU meteorite expedition, holds a piece of the stony Chelabinsk meteorite weighing more than 2.2 pound (1 kg) found earlier this year. Credit: UrFU press service

Diver Alex Yahov spotted a suspicious rock last night but had difficulty retrieving it from the mud. On a second try this morning he freed the rock and brought it up for all to see, including Viktor Grokhovsky, associate professor at the UrFU Institute of Physics and Technology, and leader of the expedition. Grokhovsky examined the rock pronounced it the genuine item.

While the Google translation of the original story is a rough read, Grokhovsky and the divers believe the main mass of the meteorite – estimated at around half a ton – still remains mired in the muck.

Their instruments indicate a magnetic anomaly at the spot. Finding a fragment bodes well for the recovery effort – a sign the team’s getting closer to the big prize. All they need to do now is follow the trail of breadcrumbs.

The freshness of their find surprises me. You’d think after being at the bottom of a lake for over 7 months a chunk that size (big as a fist?) would turn into a rusty, crumbly mess. I’ve seen worse on eBay and those pieces were recovered from dry ground. Perhaps it was protected from the corrosive effects of oxygen by its muddy burial. Stay tuned for more developments.

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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.

9 thoughts on “First fragment of Chelyabinsk meteorite recovered from bottom of Lake Chebarkul

  1. Maybe I’m just to skeptical, but ya, why isn’t it very rusty? Hasn’t rust showed up in pieces cut by a saw within several hours (a few days at least) of them being cut? And how does a rock that size falling through water get *so* embedded in the mud that you can’t get it out? If the mud is very soft, it could sink a fair ways into the mud I suppose, but then it would also be fairly easy to get out again, wouldn’t it, if it has only been there a matter of months? Is the water shallow enough there that there is significant wave action? That might make a difference maybe.

    • Hi Bob,
      You’re not the only skeptic but as far as I could find out – and I contacted someone at UrFU – it’s the real item. I suppose it could have split off the bigger mass when it hit the ice. I think a lot of us are assuming it was protected by the mud.

    • This type of meteorite is considered stony, although it has some iron in it, but not enough to ‘rust’. You may be confused with ‘fusion crust’, which can look rusty. Meteorites that are ALL iron will have a better chance of rusting in moist environments.

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