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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Meteorite Deaths? Interesting old article-read

Meteorite Deaths? Interesting old article-read

by Paul Heinrich
Tue Dec 29 23:33:54 EST 2009

Susan K. Webb wrote:

"Most of the bulk of my post involved the old Chinese
recorded incidents. Lewis took those from the Yau,
Weissman and Yeomans' paper:"

Yau, K., P. Weissman, and D. Yeomans, 1994, Meteorite
Falls in China and Some Related Human Casualty Events.
Meteoritics. vol. 29, pp. 864-871.

PDF file at: or

Thank you for the citation and reference to the Chinese
falls. It is a rather interesting and very useful paper.

Webb also wrote;

"Paul's response suggests that field work
could be profitable if the site could be
located. That took me by surprise; I assumed
too much time had passed. It's an exciting

I agree with you that this is a very interesting thought.
It the case of the reported falls that involve just a few
stones, it highly unlikely that much of anything could
be found.

However, in case of certain reported falls, in which
it appears that thousands of pieces might have fell,
I think even after a few hundred years, that there is
a fair chance that there might still be meteorites that
can be found. I suspect, if a person took into account
what geoarchaeologists call "site formation processes"
and used what is known about the geomorphology and
geomorphologic history of the area, a good geomorphologist
/ geologist / geoarchaeology could make specific
predictions as to where any meteorites from a fall
eventually came to rest and where to best look for them.
It is matter of using the enormous amount of knowledge
already gathered about geomorphology, surficial
landscape processes, and "site formation processes" to
predict the best places to look for meteorites deposited
from a possible fall.

Of course after several hundred years, any meteorites found
would likely be too weathered to be of any interest to
collectors. However, I suspect that scientifically useful
information can still be collected despite how badly
weathered the specimens might be. Of course, any search
for such reported falls would not be easy and there would
be no guarantee of success.

Looking at Yau et al. (1994), the reported 1490 fall, in my
opinion, might be a promising candidate for a search for
meteorites because of both the reported number of objects
and the reported size, 1.0 to 1.5 kg, of individual pieces.
Unfortunately, at this time, I cannot determine what the
modern name for Ch'ing-yang, China and its exact location
is at this time given the different and changing ways that
Chinese names have been and are transliterated into English.

Best Wishes,

Paul H.

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