Meteorite Worth $100k Used As Doorstop For 30 Years

A professor at Central Michigan University identified its value.

An unnamed Michigan man's doorstop turned out to be more special than he could've ever imagined after an examination at Central Michigan University this week. CMU geology professor Mona Sirbescu is often asked to evaluate various rocks for outer space origins, but none have turned out to be this impressive. She joked, "For 18 years, the answer has been categorically ‘no’ — meteor wrongs, not meteorites."


This past January, however, a meteor flash scattered space debris in southern Michigan, and stories spread about people finding meteorites and selling them. The man thought his heavy doorstop of 30 years was a meteorite as well, and reached out to the MCU geology department to get it officially checked out.


When he brought in the 22-pound curiously-shaped rock for Sirbescu to inspect, everything changed for her. "I could tell right away that this was something special," she said. Composed of 88% iron and 12% nickel, the rock wasn't just any old meteorite. It's the 6th largest ever found in Michigan, and possibly worth around $100,000.



Sirbescu sent a sample to the Smithsonian institute in Washington D.C., where geologist Catherine Corrigan confirmed its origin, adding that it wasn't surprising that it had been used as a doorstop for so many years. "Iron meteorites are heavy (pure, iron-nickel metal) and tend to be great for such things." She also explained that it's not an ideal situation, scientifically, because the elements can have negative effects on meteorites. Many meteorites at the Smithsonian are kept in secure containers to prevent unnecessary oxidation.


Mona Sirbescu examines the meteorite.

Mona Sirbescu examines the meteorite.


This particular meteorite landed at the farm in Edmore some time in the 1930s. The previous owner said so when the property changed hands in the late 1980s, saying it was part of the property and that the new owner could keep it. According to the previous owner, it had "made a heck of a noise when it hit". He was just a kid at the time, and dug out the still-warm meteorite when he found the crater with his dad the next morning.


The new owner, the star of this story, wound up reselling that farm a few years later, but he wisely took the meteorite with him. Still, he had no idea what it was really worth, even letting his kids use it for school show-and-tell days. He only thought to investigate the value this year, and you can bet he's glad he did!


So... that was a fun trip, Ms. Frizzle, but what will happen to the meteorite now? Well, it's been officially named the Edmore meteorite and it will probably be sold by the owner to a museum or collector. He's generously offered to give 10% of the profits to Central Michigan University.


What would you do with $100,000? We're off to get our rock collection appraised.

By Gloria Borger / Tuesday 9 October 2018 16:45 / United States
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