Meteorite falls in Africa

Fouad Khiri, Abderrahmane Ibhi, Thierry Saint-Gerant, Mohand Medjkane, Lahcen Ouknine

Journal of African Earth Sciences
Available online 22 July 2017


• The more favorable factors to observe and to recover meteorite falls in Africa are revealed.
• Rural African population contributes significantly to improve the collection of observed meteorite.
• The study allows to choose the African countries where educational efforts could be exploited for enhancing meteorite falls number.
• A comprehensive bibliography on meteorites in general and observed meteorite fall studies in Africa.”

“The study of meteorites provides insight into the earliest history of our solar system. From 1800, about the year meteorites were first recognized as objects falling from the sky, until December 2014, 158 observed meteorite falls were recorded in Africa. Their collected mass ranges from 1.4 g to 175 kg with the 1–10 kg cases predominant. The average rate of African falls is low with only one fall recovery per 1.35-year time interval (or 0.023 per year per million km2).

This African collection is dominated by ordinary chondrites (78%) just like in the worldwide falls. The seventeen achondrites include three Martian meteorite falls (Nakhla of Egypt, Tissint of Morocco and Zagami of Nigeria). Observed Iron meteorite falls are relatively rare and represent only 5%.

The falls’ rate in Africa is variable in time and in space. The number of falls continues to grow since 1860, 80% of which were recovered during the period between 1910 and 2014. Most of these documented meteorite falls have been recovered from North-Western Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa. They are concentrated in countries which have a large surface area and a large population with a uniform distribution. Other factors are also favorable for observing and collecting meteorite falls across the African territory, such as: a genuine meteorite education, a semi-arid to arid climate (clear sky throughout the year most of the time), croplands or sparse grasslands and possible access to the fall location with a low percentage of forest cover and dense road network.”