Take an online tour of the KGS meteorite collection
Space debris left from the formation of our solar system constantly strikes Earth’s atmosphere at very high speed as meteors, which are often visible as streaks of light in the night sky and typically disintegrate into dust particles. Some meteors survive entry into the atmospheric, striking Earth as meteorites, which are collected and studied to help in the understanding of the solar system’s formation.
The Kentucky Geological Survey has acquired a large collection of meteorites over the last twenty years from two generous donations as well as through purchases of specimens. The collection is curated by Warren Anderson, of the KGS Energy and Minerals Section, with the help of several recent KGS student workers. Visitors to the Mining and Mineral Resources Building on the UK campus in Lexington can view many of the meteorite specimens collected from every continent, including meteorites found in Kentucky.
But for those who can’t visit the campus, the collection is now available as an interactive tour at the KGS website. The new meteorite page provides information about meteorites and the KGS collection and a “Launch” button to start the tour. Photos of each meteorite are available, plus information on the year it was found and location, weight, and type of meteorite. Many of the specimens are pieces of larger meteorites displayed at museums elsewhere, such as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Natural History Museum, in London, England, and other locations. Links to sites, such as The Meteoritical Society, provide more information about the original meteorite.
Photos of 231 meteorites are available on the left half of the tour page, with a map on the right half showing the world locations where each specimen was found. Clicking on a meteorite photo or on a map icon will bring up the information about the specimen as well as links to further information. Visitors to the KGS web pages can go straight to the interactive tour through the Survey’s Geologic Story Maps page, too.
KGS has also published an informative booklet, “Space Visitors in Kentucky: Meteorites and Meteorite Impact Sites in Kentucky” (Ehmann and Anderson, 2000). It is available for free download here or as a paperback for $7.50, plus shipping, by emailing our Publications Center at KGS-Pub@lsv.uky.edu or calling toll-free at (877) 778-7827.