Rediscovery of Polish meteorites

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In 1894 Ernest F. Chladni, German ... Figure 1 – The map of strewn field of PułtusN taNen from the pamphlet published by Central School in Warsaw few years ...


Proceedings of the IMC, Egmond, 2016

Rediscovery of Polish meteorites Zbigniew 7\PLVNL1,2, Marcin Stolarz1, 3U]HP\VáDZ )RáGHN1, Mariusz :LQLHZVNL1 and Arkadiusz Olech1,3 1

Polish Fireball Network, Comets and Meteors Workshop, ul. Bartycka 18, 00-716 Warszawa, Poland [email protected] 2


1DWLRQDO&HQWUHIRU1XFOHDU5HVHDUFK5&32/$720XO6RáWDQD-400 Otwock, Poland [email protected]

Copernicus Astronomical Center, Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Bartycka 18, 00-716 Warszawa, Poland [email protected]

The total number of Polish registered meteorites (by July 2016) including the meteoritical artifacts as Czestochowa Raków I and II is 22. Most of them are described by the pioneer of Polish Meteoritics Jerzy Pokrzywnicki who also identified the meteorite fall locations. In recent years prospectors found impressive specimens of known Polish meteorites such as Morasko: 34 kg, 50 kg, 164 kg, 174 kg and 261 kg or Pultusk: 1578 g, 1576 g, 1510 g, 610 g and 580 g expanding and determining precisely the known meteorite strewn fields.

1 Introduction The history of meteoritics in Poland dates back to the early nineteenth century due to Vilnius Log (Dziennik :LOHVNL) which was the only science bulletin at that time in Polish language publishing the information about the meteorites especially about the falls. The large historical PHWHRULWH GURSV VXFK DV %LDá\VWRN   DQG 3XáWXVN   GLGQ¶W DOORZ WKH VFLHQWLVWV Wo leave this extraordinary subject. In 1894 Ernest F. Chladni, German physicist, published a groundbreaking essay about falling rocks from space but decades earlier in 1825, Feliks 'U]HZLVNLSUHVHQWHGLQ3ROLVKWKHDUWLFOH2IPHWHRULWLF stones and the reasons that could create them", unfortunately with the explanation out of truth. During today¶s the keen interest in the subject continues but it seems that is more by amateurs than by scientists. A very large group of Polish enthusiasts dealing with meteorites but people associated with meteorites professionally forms a small community. The phenomenon of a sizeable group of meteorite hunters in our country is supported also by the law which fortunately does not prohibits to collect meteorites (but one needs the permission of the Environment Ministry for abroad transportation), unlike archaeological sites, where searching with a metal detector can lead to serious consequences not only in Poland.

2 Most famous meteorite falls —Ï–—•á…Š‘†”‹–‡ˆƒŽŽszxz The largest meteorite fall observed in the modern history, before February 2013 when the superbolide Chelyabinsk appeared, was the 3XáWXVNPHWHRULWH,Q&KHO\DELQVNWKH bolide dropped a huge number of meteorites from which a large part is still lying in the fields around the village of 3HUYRPDLVN\ 7KH IDOO RI 3XáWXVN ZDV VLPLODU DQG ERWK falls are classic examples of ³meteorites shower´. Pieces from the 3XáWXVNPHWHRURLG W\SH+ IHOWDWOHDVWLQWKH area of the village Obryte to St. Rosalie and Rzewnie (15

km long) forming a strewn field divided into two relatively equal parts by the Narew river. Around this river prospectors try their luck hunting for meteorites with a much better effect than the lottery win. Because the area was flooded in the time of the fall, some meteorites have not been picked up there. Nowadays the fact that the riverbed of the Narew is shifted and the drainage was done in the fields it gives high chances to find meteorites. Today seekers equipped with specialized detectors (for stony meteorites type VLF is recommended) bring a few to several new meteorites HDFK \HDU IURP ILHOGV LQ 3XáWXVN 7KH ELJJHVW PDVVHV RI finds during last years were 1578 g (Bingoraj, 2008), 15J 6PXáD J 6WRODU] DQGJ (Kosmowski, 2015). The biggest pieces discovered just after the fall were about 9 kg and two pieces of about 8 kg (one meteorite is kept by the Earth Museum of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the others are in the Natural History Museums in London and in Berlin). 3XáWXVNLVDOVRNQRZQIURPPDQ\VPDOOPHWHRULWHVFDOOHG ³SXOWXVNSHDV´± the total number was estimated to 70000 pieces (Samsonowicz, 1952). The main supplier of this meteorite for Europe was German mineral dealer F. Krantz (he sold about 7000 pieces). Thanks to him the Pultusk meteorites are in all the famous museum collections in the world. They are also in many private collections. ‹ƒÏ›•–‘á‡—…”‹–‡ˆƒŽŽszty The second famous meteorite in 3RODQG LV %LDá\VWRN because of its observed fall in a WLPHZKHQSHRSOHGLGQ¶W EHOLHYH WKDW VWRQHV FDQ RULJLQDWH IURP WKH ³VN\´ 7KH prove was about 4 kg of meteorites collected after the loudly fall event that scared many people. There are also reports of meteorites, which were kept in the homes till WKH ¶V RI WKH ODVW FHQWXU\ ,Q 3RODQG WKHUH DUH IHZ specimens of the meteorite ± only one sample (4 grams) is in the collection of Museum of Earth in Warsaw, the others are just a few but with not really known origin.

Proceedings of the IMC, Egmond, 2016



Figure 2 ± 7KH3XáWXVNJ-specimen just after it was digged out from the soil (photo by M. Stolarz).

300 The meteorite is part of the Vesta asteroid group as HXFULWH7KH%LDá\VWRNVWUHZQILHOGLVDSODFHWRZKLFKRQH would be happy to come back. Some people are convinced that meteorites can still be found around the 6XSUDO ULYHU EXW WKH HIIRUW RI PHWHRULWH KXQWHUV GLGQ¶W bring any positive results yet. O‘™‹…œ, mesosiderite fall 1935 Mesosiderites, the type of meteorites that contains a similar amount of achondritic material rock and iron, most of them come from Vesta. Isotopic studies indicate their impact origin and indeed the results of the analysis made by the DOWN mission confirmed this assumption (as revealed the presence of diogenites, eucrites and howardites in the mantle of this asteroid). These are widely recognized among the Polish collectors of meteorites due to the rarity of their occurrence, and probably also due to the àRZLF] PHWHRULWH ZKLFK LV WKH representative of this group. In contrast to Bialystok this meteorite is commonly known in the site of fall. The systematic search led to the discovery of 49 kg from an estimated 110 kg ± two biggest were 10 and 8 kg and the searchers noticed some craters produced by impacts. There are also documented meteorites held by the local people long after the World War II. For this reason the area of the àRZLF] PHWHRULWH IDOO LV YLVLWHG E\ PHWHRULWH hunters and apparently even one specimen was found after years of searching. Unfortunately nothing more about this find is known.

3 Most famous meteorite finds c™‹‡…‹‡á ‹”‘‡–‡‘”‹–‡ászwr The mHWHRULWH 6FKZHW] ZLHFLH  KDV EHHQ H[FDYDWHG LQ 1850 on the left bank of the Wda river during the works on the construction of the railway line leading to East Prussia. Information from some sources mentions that 21.5 kg meteorite has been excavated at the flattening of the hill-top for the railway line from the depth of 3±4 feet and that it broke up into three parts after excavation. There is ambiguous information about the location of the meteorite find ± one report describes the excavation close to the bridge girders, another one says a meteorite was found next to the Konopat town. A couple of searching campaigns were organized in this area but due to the unknown location of this find they failed. ”œ‡Ïƒœy, iron IAB-MG iron meteorite In the middle of the seventeenth century a local farmer in WKH YLOODJH RI3U]HáD]\ 6HHOlVJHQ  found a lump of iron while digging a trench ± it weighted 102 kg. In 1847 the stone was recognized as a meteorite and taken to Wroclaw. In 1852, Clark Smith described the meteorite as an oval body covered by a thin layer of weathered iron (0.5±1.5 mm). There were no signs of fragmentation and the meteorite was covered with regmaglypts. Today, a number of attempts were made to find any remaining fragments. Some specimens were found on the eastern side of the lake by Mr. Henryk Nowacki. There are more explorations planned to confirm the findings.

Proceedings of the IMC, Egmond, 2016 Morasko, IAB-MG iron meteorite, 1914 The Morasko represents one of the biggest iron meteorite falls in Europe. The strewn field was discovered by World War I soldiers, digging trenches in 1914 near 3R]QD$PDVVRIURFNZHLJKLQJDSSUR[LPDWHO\NJ was first extracted. Then more masses were discovered in 1936, 1956, 1992, 1995 and up to 2015 totaling about 1 ton of known meteorites. The meteorite is classified as an octahedrite IAB-MG ± the most popular iron type but is distinctive from the other meteorites by the low iridium while gallium content is high. Among the Polish meteorites the Morasko is the easiest to find. It can be done using the simplest type of metal detector. There is a group of depressions associated with the fall. They were found by Jerzy Pokrzywnicki as craters. In recent years, prospectors found near them an impressive specimen of 0RUDVNRDVELJDVNJ 6RFKD NJ 6PXáD and Skirzewska, 2012), 174 kg (Owczarzak and Nebelski, 2015). ƒÏ‘†œ‹‡á‡•–ƒ–‹–‡ƒ…Š‘†”‹–‡-ungrupped $WWKHHQGRI6HSWHPEHU0U6WDQLVáDZ-Dchymek collector of minerals found D ³strange´, heavy and rusty stone. The stone was lying on the road near the forest between the villages ³=DNáRG]LH 'yá´ and ³=DNáRG]LH Góra´. After examining the find it turned out to be a rare specimen of a meteorite, weighing 8.68 kg. Further research (noble gases) showed that the meteorite (despite weathering) is a relatively fresh fall. Under the layer of the weathering a fusion crust is visible. It has been discovered that most probably the meteorite felt in April 1898 (one hundred years earlier). At this time a very bright fireball was seen from the south-east of Poland and this was described in local newspapers. Unfortunately, further explorations by Mr Jachymek and other meteorite hunters were unsuccessful.

4 Unclassified meteorite Siewierz meteorite The last Polish find is meteorite Siewierz, not registered yet. The meteorite sparked debate in the Polish meteorite world, because is shrouded in mystery since the story of its discovery is unknown. Meteorite Paris was recorded in 2010. It probably does not come from Paris, but was rediscovered in 2001 in a box with various objects belonging to a mining engineer working in the French Colonies. These items, together with the meteorite were purchased on sale in Paris, hence the name of the meteorite. The meteorite was registered as ³unknown location´. We have now a similar case ± a meteorite, Siewierz, was recognized in the collectibles of the grandfather of the finder, deceased 20 years ago. A photo of the specimen and later a fragment was handed over to check by some jeweler and collector of meteorites, who confirmed its cosmic origin. In this way the finders proved this as suspicion and we have a chance for a 23th Polish meteorite. There are some investigators trying to find out the history of the meteorite either in libraries searching local archives or by scientific research.

Proceedings of the IMC, Egmond, 2016


5 Conclusion There are relatively few meteorites discovered in Poland (22). Most of them are described by the pioneer of Polish Meteoritics Jerzy Pokrzywnicki who identified also the meteorite fall locations. Those known meteorite strewn fields can be still successfully exploited. The fields where PHWHRULWHVGURSSHGIURPKXJHEROLGHVVXFKDV3XáWXVNRU Morasko can still bring additional material for research and for collections. For this reason many prospectors try to find meteorites there. In recent years meteorite hunters found impressive specimens of meteorites in Morasko: 34 kg, 50 kg, 164 kg, 174 kg and 261 kg. The pieces found ODVW \HDUV LQ 3Xátusk field were still smaller then known museum specimens, weighting: 1578 g, 1576 g, 1510 g, 610 g and 580 g. The classification and description of Polish meteorites can be found on the Meteoritical Bulletin site 1.

Acknowledgment We are thankful to the NCN for research funds ± Grant no. 2013/09/B/ST9/02168.


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