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No. 80: Mar-Apr 1992

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The Nullarbor Lode

For the last few hundred years people have been picking up sparsely strewn meteorites all over the planet. But Antarctic explorers, within the last few decades, found that thousands of meteorites have been concentrated in the ice of the southernmost continent. Even more recently, the desolate, desert-like Nullarbor ("no-trees") Plain, in Southern Australia, has been discovered to be another concentrated source of of meteorites. There may be millions there. The problem is that only 2.9% of them are iron meteorites, whereas those picked up in recent years around the planet-atlarge are 4.8% irons. The meteorites from the Antarctic lode, on the other hand, weigh in with only 2.2% irons. Why the marked differences? Could it be age? The Antarctic meteorites seem to be up to a million years old; those of Nullarbor, perhaps 16,000-18,000 years.

(Anonymous; "A Meteorite Bounty from Down Under," Sky and Telescope, November 1991.)

Comment. Perhaps pertinent is the observation that fossil meteorites are essentially nonexistent in geological formations older than a million years. This is an anomaly of itself!

From Science Frontiers #80, MAR-APR 1992. 1992-2000 William R. Corliss