New Mineral Named After GIA’s John Koivula
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 Post subject: The Rock that came from outer Space
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:42 pm 
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Location: Hohe Tauern N.P., Austria
The relationship between humans and stones is not as complicated as the one between humans and other humans. Maybe that´s why many of my rockhounding collueges, and, (I wonder why) me are looked at as strange people, outsiders and freaks by a majority of consumers out there. Only a mad man, they say, carries 45 kg in a backpack up a 2000 m mountain and stays there in the wilderness for weeks - all that just for stones.

A good example for that missing understanding is the only one question that you´re asked whatever stone you find as a digger, whatever rare and beautiful mineral specimen you carry down from the mountain: what is it worth? How much money does that bring in?

I always try to sensibilize my counterpart for the scientific wealth a piece represents, the uniqueness of natures treasures that is often not possible to be measured in money alone.

And so it comes, that from time to time people put you on a test - to look if you have that ability they don´t really understand; the ability to give a stone a scientific name, to tell where it came from or how it formed.

Some of you may also know situations, where people just pull off a ring from their finger and want to know: Is that a real stone?
As soon as one tries to answer politely, that there is no such verdict without testing, the ring owner seems to be somehow satisfied - by the fact that even a "specialist" can´t say something without "machines" - it brings the two, in the ringowners eyes, to the same level.

Today I want to share a story with you, that happened to me in the last days, knowing, that things like that happen to all of us in different variations in our lifetime. With a smile on my face I hope you enjoy reading it...



The Rock that came from outer Space

After another digging trip to the National Park Hohe Tauern that lasted for 2 weeks, I again chose to visit my mother for a few days. She lives in Salzburg, just about halfway between the valley and my home in vienna. This time I had to learn about the limits of my body: hard labour in high altitude from dusk til´dawn, sleeping in a backpack on hard ground, and walking down the mountain with a 58 kg backpack (yep, 58 kg, the people in the hut saw it and put it on a weigh cause only few were able to lift it) made my fingertips senseless. One can´t dig anymore when there is no feeling in your fingers. So I went to mums place and enjoyed the gift of still having a mum alive. We talked about this and that and how much she would love to have me near her, and she told me about people I know from the times when I grew up. Also about a man I always liked very much back then, a retired woodcrafter. I decided to walk to his house the next day to keep a bit in shape and let my body learn how to walk straight up again.

Being there we talked and had a drink in the garden, and after I reported from my trip to the mountains, my old friend had this spark in his eyes, jumped up and said; " I have a stone here I want to show you. I am curious if you know what it is...."

He came back and placed the object in front of me, sat down and watched me. Somehow I felt reminded to my school years, I felt like writing a test again. Then I looked at the piece and my brain started to work ...

The Object measures 7 x 7 x 6 cm, is of a potato like outer shape and has fractures that show the black glass - like compact interior of the rock. Three parallel planes go through the stone but seem to be healed by remelting together. The outside of the object, where not fractured, shows a whitish shine, through microfractures that optically reflect light better than the black glassy interior.

My friend still looked at me and awaited my verdict.

I said:"If you picked that one up next to a volcano I would say its a chunk of obsidian. Did you go to Italy for vacation recently?"

"No Nik, you know that I don´t travel and the stone is from HERE"

There are no active Volcanoes in Austria. So I rethinked and took another guess.

"It could also be a waste product, some kind of slag that comes from industrial processes or a leftover from a big fire where something was molten together by the heat."

Then my friend stood up and told me the story that was in my mind over the last days, that kept me from sleep and made me plan trips and meetings. He said:

"Three weeks ago I was sleeping a bit here in my garden. It was about 16:30. I woke up because there was a very loud, explosion like noise. Dust was everywhere! I walked over a few meters to where I use to park my car and there was a crater in the ground: about 50 cm wide and 30 cm deep. In the center of this crater there was the stone you hold in your hand. It was extremely hot, glowing red and I touched it the first time the next day when it had cooled down. After that I filled the crater again with gravel so I can park my car."
:shock:
I was shocked. Wow. Turning the piece between my fingers I remembered all the nights as a boy, when I was watching the sky for hours to see the spectacular light of bolides over me. I remembered how often I had dreamed of seeing a meteorite fall down, and finding it somewhere in the mountains, in a crater, still hot and smoking. Should that dream have now come true?

"Why didn´t you tell anyone yet?" I asked him.

"I fear that they wouldn´t believe me. And I don´t want all the people to jump around in my garden." he answered.

I thought by myself that, if I would have seen a meteorite fall down in his garden, or even just hear about it, I´d be the first one with shovel and sieve to dig a hole.

"I understand. I know what to do with the stone, where to bring it to and get it tested. I will talk to the people and the media so you don´t have to fear your privacy is disturbed."

I asked for pen and paper, wrote down a protocol of the scene where the stone had fallen down, described the possible entry angle between the roofs of two houses and a line of trees. I also wrote down the story as he had told it to me as well as his name and adress. I added a line identifying myself and being the carrier of his stone as well as being allowed to let it be tested and brought to a museum for scientific examination.

He signed the paper and I walked off with the object in my bag. I remembered the story of that austrian guy that recovered a meteorite in 2002 (Should tell that one one time too) that got hundreds of thousands Euros for the piece.

And I called a friend of mine, a museum curator from salzburg, to tell him the story. He was absolutely impressed and interested, but since he was in Italy he said I should get it tested in Vienna.

The new Director of the museum is actually a meteorite specialist, a professor that teaches at the University.

And today I proudly entered his impressive bureau. Showed him the piece. His verdict came fast and direct.

"This is some kind of Glass, artificial material. There is no such thing as a glass meteorite. You wouldn´t believe what kind of things people bring to me as meteorites. Last week there was this guy that had a new solar panel mounted on his roof. The panel had a hole the next day, and he brought the stone that has destroyed it, saying it has to be a meteorit. What a wonder: The meteorite even had fossiles inside..."

I walked out, had a zig and while I looked to the beautiful buildings surrounding me, with all the rose gardens and the tourists, I smiled. And decided to do two things:

First: Don´t ask my friend why he had done that to me, but just calling him to say that someone must have thrown a chunk of hot glass into his garden.

Second: Share it with the GO Community

Dear reader, thanks for your time. Since you´ve read it through, I ´m sure you´re still awake. By reading this piece of life of a rockhound you helped him come over the fact that there is no fame and no money falling down from the sky.... We still have to work to get them two....

Greetings from Vienna,

Nikolaus

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 Post subject: Re: The Rock that came from outer Space
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:56 am 
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heh... :D I can imagine you got all excited... Maybe we can think of a good way of getting the old fella back...

How about heating that rock over a little cooker till it's red hot and then swinging it through his front window? :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: The Rock that came from outer Space
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:09 am 
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[-X When the guy would be my age and healthy (He had heart attacks already) I would already start to heat up ...
:idea:
Maybe I´ll tell him instead, that I sent the stone to a russian laboratory where they try to press the black (C) inclusions into diamonds ...

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 Post subject: Re: The Rock that came from outer Space
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:12 am 
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Or leak a little story to the local newspaper in which is described how this young digger earned a million by selling this rare meteorite to the museum of natural history...


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 Post subject: Re: The Rock that came from outer Space
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:18 am 
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:lol: Haha! Good idea... Or ill ask some friends of mine to dress in black suites, sunglasses and visit him - as the men in Black ...

I have already forgiven him anyway, I just smile about myself because he really got me 100% convinced with his approach, it all sounded logic to me...

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