An Article In Meteorite-Times Magazine
by Robert Verish

2012 Year-end Review

A recap of the past year's events and findings.

Well, it's that time of year, where we take time to reflect on the events of 2012, and in the process we can make predictions, or at least, better resolutions for the coming year.

2012 January - Nevada meteorites

The year 2012 starts off on the right foot (on January 4th) with the recovery of a small chondrite from an un-named dry lake in Nevada. Although not a cold find, recovering this small stone was still gratifying because I found it in the exact corner of the dry lake where I had predicted meteorites would be stranded. I will defer announcing the location and classification of this meteorite, and instead, give that honor to the actual cold finder. Hopefully, that will occur in 2013.

Robert Verish  2012
Ordinary Chondrite (but not a cold find)

On the way home, stopped at ASU for a meeting with Dr. Laurence Garvie, Jim Wooddell, and Rubin Garcia. The primary subject was "Franconia Area" meteorites and those peculiar, small "irons" that continue to be found in numbers in that strewn-field. Among those present, a collaboration was proposed in order to study these peculiar meteorites. To that end, I donated a "Franconia Area" specimen that exhibited a rectangular "bleb" of nickel-iron. Results from this "collaboration" are not expected until well after 2013.

Robert Verish  2012
Franconia Area H-chondrite, the parent body for all the H-metal meteorites from this area.

2012 February - Tucson Show & Whitmire Bolide

Before we knew it, another Tucson Show had come and gone. You can click on the image below in order to link to my article about the "The 2012 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show" with a compilation of links to other reports about the 2012 Show. Can't believe that the 2013 Show is almost here!

Robert Verish  2012
Tucson Show 2012

Bolide*Chaser packs his bags and is Whitmire, South Carolina bound... You can click on the image below in order to link to my article about, "The Whitmire (South Carolina) Bolide of February 13th 2012", and how the search to recover the first meteorite from this bolide still continues.

Robert Verish  2012
The Whitmire fall is still waiting to be discovered!

2012 March - Lucerne Valley & Hartman Memorial

Moni walks her cat, "Rum-Tum", at Lucerne Dry Lake. Cat lies down next to a Lucerne Valley meteorite! ("Click" on image below)

Monika Waiblinger  2012
Bengal Cat Recovers Chondrite!

The Ron Hartman Memorial was held in the month of March. Ron passed away in August 2011. I am thankful to the staff at Mt. San Antonio College for hosting this memorial, so that all of Ron's family and all of his friends could come together to meet each other and to share stories of Ron's life and his achievements. You can click on the image below in order to link to my article about, "Ron Hartman's Memorial".

Robert Verish  2012
Hartman Memorial poster

2012 April - Pinto Mountains - then later, a trip to a Nevada Playa - and then on the way back home, a stop at Sutter's Mill

After being invited to metal-detect at a friends gold claim (which is probably in the middle of a strewn-field, yet I still failed to find any gold or meteorites) I decided to go back home by way of Twentynine Palms. I only had a few hours of daylight, but before the end of the day (and within sight of my truck) I amazingly found a splatter zone of chondritic stone fragments. The more I look at these fragments, the more I think they are paired to Pinto Mountains, so I don't think this should be considered a "cold find". But I may have really opened-up this L-chondrite strewn-field! Confirmation of this possibility will probably be made this year.

Robert Verish  2012
L-Chondrite fragment in-situ

Before we knew it, summer was starting-up and temperatures were rising, so another Nevada dry lake had to be revisited before it would get too hot. But what really got "hot" was Moni. She found 3 meteorites in 1 day! I couldn't keep up with her. Later in this same month, Moni would make an even bigger score.

Robert Verish  2012
More about this locality later in 2013!

On our way home from this Nevada dry lake, we heard reports about a bolide event that flew over Nevada and into California and was witnessed from Reno, so we decided to take a side-trip to a small town called, "Lotus, California". The rest is history - a very well-documented history. Actually, another historical event for Sutter's Mill, and Moni was a part of that event. You can click on the image below in order to link to my article about how the "Sutter's Mill #12 Meteorite" was found along with a compilation of in-situ and in-the-field images.

Robert Verish  2012
Peter Jenniskens with Monika Waiblinger - holding Moni's awesome meteorite: "SM#12" (CM-breccia)

2012 May - Alaska Cruise & Palomar Mountain Observatory

Our cruise ship tour of Alaska turned out to be just a vacation from meteorite-recovery when bad weather cancels our one-day side-trip to Tagish Lake.

Robert Verish  2012
Tour of Southeast Alaska (nice vacation)

We were invited by our good friend and fellow meteorite-hunter, Richard Garcia, to take a tour of the Palomar Observatory. Now that Richard is retired, he is a full-time docent at the Observatory. There can't be a more knowledgeable tour-guide than Richard. He expertly recounted the history of the Hale Telescope and the Palomar Observatory with little-known facts, which made the story of this awesome technological wonder even more interesting.

Robert Verish  2012
Palomar Observatory (on Palomar Mountain in Riverside County, CA)

2012 June - Blackhawk Landslide & Antelope Valley

We were invited to join a group-hunt on a paleo-landslide called the "Blackhawk Landslide" in the Lucerne Valley area of the Mojave Desert. The weather was pleasant, and so was the company. No finds have been made, yet, but it is a vast area and the recovery efforts are still on-going. This group is long-overdue for a cold-find, and 2013 could just be that lucky year.

Robert Verish  2012
Blackhawk Landslide

Speaking of "cold-finds" here is one that I made in the month of June. It was an unbelievably lucky recovery. Here is what meteorite-hunter, James LaBarbera, (who witnessed the recovery) had to say:
"Bob! I couldn't believe you drove us all the way out to Kern County and when we finally get out of the truck we're still in the suburbs of Lancaster, CA. Worse, there is all this vegetation, hardly any blow-outs, mostly small mudflats, and then finally when there is an open area, people have dumped trash all over the area. I didn't say anything at first, because I didn't think you were seriously going to hunt between all of those piles of dumped trash. But after an hour, I knew you were more than serious. It was even more unbelievable when you found that little stone and told me that you thought it was a meteorite. At first, it didn't look like one, but then I saw the chondrules. We had actually found a meteorite! Right there, next to a trash dump. Unbelievable! Then, a month later you call me to tell me that it turns out to be a carbonaceous chondrite. Even more unbelievable!"
(I guess this only goes to show that meteorites fall wherever they may, and our odds of finding them are more related to the conditions of the surface we are searching. Still, I was lucky that someone hadn't dumped trash on top of this stone. This just goes to show that searchable surfaces are only diminishing. Meteorite-recovery on surfaces like this, which are experiencing suburban encroachment, feels more like "meteorite-remediation"! A lot of area that I once hunted has now been bull-dozed. I'm glad we got there before the next housing-development construction began.)

Robert Verish  2012
Carbonaceous Chondrite - obviously more about this later in 2013

2012 July - Holbrook 100th

You can click on the image below in order to link to my article on "Holbrook - 100th Anniversary (2012) - Meteorite Hunt", which was a compilation of images from the gathering of meteorite hunters celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Holbrook Meteorite fall.

Twink Monrad  2012
Thank you Twink Monrad for the memorable cake.

2012 August - Museums

Summer was very hot in the desert this past year. This is the time of year that I schedule visits from friends and family members from out-of-state. It's also a good time of year to take the grandkids to the local aquariums, museums, and zoos. I get a kick when the kids see my meteorites on display. This summer I met another museum curator, and I volunteered for any help that he would need with his collection. I started by rearranging the labels in the proper order for the meteorites that he had on display.

Robert Verish  2012
Mislabeled meteorites at a local museum

2012 September - Battle Mountain, Nevada

Somewhat of a coincidence was that I was already packing-up for a return-trip to those northern Nevada dry lakes when word of a bolide sighting near Battle Mountain first reached me. So, it was actually still August when we first arrived at the projected "strewn-field". It wasn't until September 1st that I finally made my first find. It also happens that my find was the very first stone recovered from this bolide, which makes this meteorite a "witnessed fall". Moni posted a YouTube video of me making this initial recovery.
You can click on the image below in order to link to my article on "The Hunt for Battle Mountain Meteorites", which is a photo gallery of my first trip to Battle Mountain.

Robert Verish  2012
Within 12 days of my finding the first stone to this new fall, we had a classification for this meteorite!
Within 12 days of my submitting the forms to the NomComm, we had a formally-approved name for this fall!!
A "thanks" goes out to the NomComm, the UCLA classifier, and all the meteorite-hunters for this cooperative effort.
The cooperation shown between the amateur field-workers and the professional meteoriticists has set a new standard.

It took a second trip back to this strewn-field in order to recover my second find, which is depicted in the image below, which is also a link (if you click on the image) to my post on the Met-List where I announce the classification for the fall at Battle Mountain.

Robert Verish  2012
Looking for a museum with a meteorite display in Nevada where I can put this stone on display.

2012 October - Recon trip to several Nevada playas - and then on the way back home, a side-trip to Novato, California

Moni and I used the excuse of having to attend my nephew's wedding in Colorado as an opportunity to "hit" some dry lakes along the way. Long-story-short, we stopped at a lot of new localities, but we didn't make any "cold-finds". But Moni and I did find a total of 6 small fragments at known chondrite localities.

Robert Verish  2012
One of the chondrites that Moni found while on our October "vacation".

Moni was scheduled to work, so she had to fly back home. I drove the truck back home on a circuitous route that took many days and that included a stop at Battle Mountain for a revisit with my good friend, Marty Cunningham. On this return trip back home (without Moni) my luck made a turn for the worse. I traveled a lot of miles and made a lot of stops, but I came-up empty-handed. Marty and I were skunked at Battle Mountain for the month of October.
It was while I was at Battle Mountain that I first got word of ANOTHER NEW FALL in northern California. So, I decided to depart Battle Mountain for home, but to take a "short" side-trip to Marin County, California. (And, as was the case with our trip to Sutter's Mill in April of this same year, "the rest of the story is history".)
Sixteen DAYS later, I was still in Marin County - trying to find more of the elusive "Novato" meteorite (after having found Novato#4 on Oct. 27th).
I had made finds from 2 separate witnessed falls within 37 days of each other! (So much for my "turn of bad luck";-)
My photo below, is also a link (if you click on the image) to my field-report about the fall in Marin County, California, titled: "The 2012 October 18, 02:44 UT (Oct. 17, 19:44 PDT) Fireball and Meteorite Fall in the Novato California Area" which is a compilation of news stories and reports about this meteorite fall.

Robert Verish  2012
"Novato" #4 (L6 monomict breccia)

2012 November - California bolide

This bolide must have dropped meteorites in Sonoma County, but all my searching this month has come-up empty-handed. Why? Where are all the other meteorites?

Robert Verish  2012
The bolide that dropped meteorites on Novato, Marin County, California. Credit: Bob Moreno 2012
(But, where else did these meteorites land?)

2012 December - no new finds from the CA falls of 2012

Moni and I spent a lot of time this Holiday Season traveling to see family in San Francisco and Sacramento. Whenever there was a spare day, we would make a dash to Novato or Sutter's Mill to put in some time searching for more meteorites. Unfortunately, we have nothing to report. But what I can report on are the conditions of the surfaces that we searched on in these strewn-fields. It was obvious to me that the grass was coming up early from all of the early wet weather. It had already become too tall to effectively hunt off of the pavement in the Novato-Sonoma area. I had planned to return to Sutter's Mill at the end of winter, but this was clearly looking like it would be a mistake. So, in mid-December I paid two more visits to Sutter's Mill, and I was right, the grass was already coming up, but because of the elevation the growing season is shorter and the grass was shorter. While hiking under trees in the Clark Mountain area, I found the surface conditions to be the most optimal, yet still rapidly degrading as the grass continued to grow with ample rain and no snow to cover it. But I ran out of time and I hadn't made any finds. I realized then, but too late, that I should have come to Sutter's Mill earlier (in November), and that my plans to return here, after winter, may have to be postponed until long after summer 2013!
I hate to end this "year-end review" on a negative note, but the prospects of making additional finds from these Northern California falls is not promising.
So, all we can do is hope (unrealistically) that 2013 will become the "Year of Southern California Falls", and hope they land in our barren desert, if we can't get them to land on city pavements.
(Be very careful what you wish for!)

Robert Verish  2012
Fast growing grass at Sutter's Mill.

Below image taken Friday, January 20, 2012, 4:37:48 PM PST - Sunset in the Mojave Desert

Robert Verish  2012
Happy Trails!

Wishing everyone many more bolides to chase - and hoping that they all lead to many more meteorite falls for the coming year 2013.



My previous articles can be found *HERE*

For more information, please contact me by email: Bolide*chaser