Edwards Air Force Base - Trip date: 2003 January 19
M-Recovery field report - field investigation - Update
Access to Rosamond Dry Lake is still off limits...
03/01/19 | by Robert Verish
The new "Rosamond Dry Lake" find - | -
represents a new main mass for this meteorite originally found in 1940 in Kern County, California.
The Los Angeles Times newspaper ran several articles in January 2003 regarding a proposal by the City of Lancaster and Los Angeles County to flood Rosamond Dry Lake with effluent from their nearby Water Treatment Plant in the hopes of raising the water table in that part of the Antelope Valley. Essentially, the local government wanted to use Rosamond Dry Lake as a "spreading pond" for groundwater purposes. Environmentalists were split on this issue. Migratory birds would benefit greatly, but at what, as yet unknown, cost to the local environment? This dry lake is entirely on Edwards Air Force Base, which the military uses as an emergency runway, and the Department of Defense was totally against the proposal. The federal government required Environmental Impact Studies. Lawyers took their case to court. A decision is still pending.
The new find (in-situ) - only seconds after having been just discovered - | - the other black objects are abandoned automobile tires (Did all of this debris drift onto this shoreline?).
Faced with the imminent destruction of Rosamond Dry Lake (at least as it relates to meteorite-recovery) and the inundation of its lakebed (which has taken many millennia to develop), I petitioned the Commanding Officer to have my meteorite recovery team "police" the lakebed for possible meteorites. After going through a long chain-of-command, I was told at every level that the lake was "off-limits", and even if it wasn't, that only I had the proper clearance to access its shoreline. Apparently my job at the Goldstone Deep Space Tracking Station, a site which can only be reached by first entering the Fort Irwin National Training Center, has supplied me with an ID badge that has sufficient security clearance to grant me access to the shoreline of Rosamond Dry Lake.
Close-up - | - of the new find in-situ.
I was given assurances by all in the military that I had no need to worry about the dry lake being intentionally flooded, that they would never give permission "to have their emergency landing strips flooded or buried in mud". Yet, on my very next visit to Edwards Air Base, as soon as the lake came into sight I could see the early morning light reflecting off the surface of an expanse of water that must have already covered 1/5th of Rosamond "Dry" Lake.
Another view of find in-situ - | -
Near the end of my first day of searching, after a great deal of walking, I made a find. A solitary chondritic stone. A complete individual that, when weighed, proved to be more massive than the original 1940 find.
A successful recovery - | - A view of the "main mass" find at the find locality.
A full, detailed accounting of this recovery will come at a later time. I don't want to give the appearance that I am promoting meteorite-recovery by any persons that aren't authorized. Although I intend to share this information with the other members of our M-Recovery Team, they fully understand that they cannot act on this information, since their access to this location can not be authorized. Although base personnel are authorized to access this locality (shoreline), they are very aware that the dry lake bed is "Off-Limits" and that access is prohibited. Given the present, "post 9-11" security situation, UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS could result in some highy serious repercussions.
A closer view - | - Another view of the main mass immediately after its recovery.
So, consider all of this as, "a word to the wise"! It would be very foolish to enter any "Off-Limits" area. The Military Police have a guard shack that overlooks the entire dry lake area. Ignore this advice and it will only be a matter of WHEN (not "if") the Military Police catch you.
The "main mass" - | - After it has been cut for sample and type specimen.
On another subject, I'm always surprised by the number of people who question why I cut my meteorites. An even larger number of people think that meteorites are damaged when they get cut. Now here's a fact - I have NEVER been questioned by a meteorite researcher as to "why did I cut my meteorite find?" Another fact - these same researchers REQUIRE of me to cut a sample from each of my finds, unless I have a VERY good reason (one that they agree with;-) why NOT to cut a sample. Typically, I find myself cutting samples from most of my finds. And USUALLY, I find that I eventually have to cut a "type specimen" from a VERY high percentage of these sampled finds. I consider this JUSTIFICATION for my practice of cutting so many of my finds. In this particular case, I need to prove this stone is paired to the original Rosamond Dry Lake (1940) find. In the unlikely event that the microprobe and thin section characterization finds evidence that this stone is NOT paired to the original find, then an additional 20 gram "type specimen" will have to be cut from this stone, as well. This is REQUIRED before this find can be formally approved as a "new" California meteorite.
Complete slice - | - An image of the 22.6 gram slice that is up for auction.
This is the slab that I cut from the 875-gram "new" main mass of the Rosamond Dry Lake meteorite, which this report discusses. NOTE – this slice is NOT from the original 850 gram main mass that went into the Claremont College collection in the 1940s, was promptly lost, and has not been seen since! That’s what makes this particular find so satisfying to me – it replaces the lost main mass of a California meteorite. But before any institution will accept this meteorite, I will have to get this stone classified in order to prove that it is paired to Rosamond Dry Lake, otherwise, it is a new California meteorite.
Because of the governments withdrawal of funds that formerly went to labs that did classifications for non-Antarctic finds, such as these, I am now forced to sell a portion of each find in order to pay for the cost of getting them classified! The ONLY reason that this Rosamond Dry Lake specimen is being auctioned, is because of the current crisis in getting classifications for Ordinary Chondrites. Aside from the “type specimen”, this may be the only Rosamond Dry Lake specimen that will be made available to collections.