UK meteorite search reconnaissance mission in Antarctica 2018/2019 – 36 meteorites found

Last update: 28 February 2019

On a blue icefield meteorite search reconnaissance mission members of the UK Polar Meteorite Exploration and Research team consisting of Katherine (Katie) Joy and field guide Julie Baum have found 36 meteorites during their search on several icefields in the Recovery Glacier region (81°10′S, 28°00′W) on the southern side of the Shackleton Range as well as the northern areas of Argentina Range (82°18’27.2″S, 41°53’30.3″W) in Antarctica since 2 January 2019. The reconnaissance mission (Dec 2018 – Feb 2019) is one of two simultaneous field trips meant as a preparation for the Lost Meteorites of Antarctica Project‘s main field trip which is planned for December 2019. The first meteorite was found on 6 January 2019. By 8 January three meteorites had been found. On 9 January another four meteorites were found. The following day another four meteorites were discovered. Together with the eight meteorites found on 11 January and the two meteorites found on 12 January, including a specimen with a length of 19 centimeters, a total of 21 meteorites was found in the first search area. After moving to another search area the team found a specimen on a nunatak on 16 January. The following day five specimens were found and on 18 January another two meteorites could be recovered. On 19 January three meteorites were detected of which two were still half embedded in the ice and had to be dug out. On 20 January one meteorite was found and on the following day another one, which could be an achondrite because of its shiny, glassy fusion crust and apparent lack of chondrules. On 23 January another meteorite, half buried in ice, was found. Together with two small specimens found on 24 January 36 meteorites have been found so far. The meteorites are expected to arrive in Britain in June 2019. The amount and classes of the surface finds of this year’s search season will be compared to the possible subsurface finds of iron meteorites during the December 2019 seach expedition. It is assumed that up to 2.9 iron meteorites per week might be found if the team manages to scan an area of about 2.4 km² per day with the five panels of their metal detector array towed by snowmobile. The Lost Meteorites of Antarctica Project tries to confirm the theory of a hidden layer of subsurface Antarctic meteorites, published by Evatt et al in February 2016.

A potential hidden layer of meteorites below the ice surface of Antarctica
G. W. Evatt, M. J. Coughlan, K. H. Joy, A. R. D. Smedley, P. J. Connolly, I. D. Abrahams
Nature Communications 7,
Article number: 10679, published 16 February 2016

The Lost Meteorites of Antarctica Project: A New UK-Led Antarctic Meteorite Recovery Programme

K. H. Joy, G. E. Evatt, A. R. D. Smedley, I. D. Abrahams, A. Peyton, L. A. Marsh, J. Wilson, J. Davidson, W. van Verre, M. Rose, L. Gerrish, T. Harvey

50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2019), Abstract #1018

First find on blue ice on 6 January. Photo: Katherine Joy
A meteorite found on blue ice on 10 January. Photo: Katherine Joy
Katherine Joy next to a small, flight-oriented specimen with roll-over lips. Photo: Katherine Joy
Julie Baum next to a larger flat specimen, found on 11 January. Photo: Katherine Joy
Larger elongated 19-cm-long specimen on blue ice, found on 12 January. Photo: Katherine Joy
Larger elongated 19-cm-long specimen on blue ice, found on 12 January. Photo: Katherine Joy
Meteorite found on a nunatak on 12 January. Photo: Katherine Joy
Complete meteorite with fusion crust found on 18 January. Photo: Katherine Joy
One of three meteorites found on 19 January. Photo: Katherine Joy
Specimen embedded in ice. Photo: Katherine Joy

Source: UK Polar Meteorite Exploration and Research

Media coverage

Interview with Katherine Joy and Geoff Evatt (BBC, 27 February 2019)