by Robert Verish

The Southern African Meteorite Recovery Program

This months article is about the Southern African Meteorite Recovery Program (SAMRP) and its place in history in regards to meteorite-recovery.....

While doing a Google search on "meteorite-recovery", I discovered that there has been an M-R effort underway by a small group of Southern African astronomers since 1999!
It appears that an awareness of a need for an organized approach to meteorite-recovery in the field by utilizing the group efforts of "non-professionals" seems to have taken root in the Southern African astronomy community along about the same time period as similar efforts were producing results here in Southern California!
The founder of this group, Trevor Gould, stated that, "Following the 62nd Meeting of the Meteoritical Society at University of the Witwatersrand in July 1999, I got to thinking about the role of amateurs and the recovery of meteorites." What resulted was his "Notes on Proposed Meteorite Recovery Program for Southern Africa", which became the start ot the SAMRP. The rest, as they say, "is history"! See for yourself in the web pages reproduced below.
[Just as an aside for historical accuracy, it may be more than coincidental that I presented a poster at this very same 62nd Meeting of the Meteoritical Society. So, please excuse me then, if I rationalize that my unassuming poster (by a "non-professional") with images of successful meteorite recoveries at Lucerne Dry Lake, may have given others the idea that, "Hey, I can do that, too!"]
It is the hope of this article that the recounting of the successes (as well as as the shortcomings) of the formation and the evolution of the SAMRP will be instructional for other fledgling Meteorite-Recovery groups.

The following tables are various web pages of the "Southern African Meteorite Recovery Program" which have been reproduced here for readers convenience, as well as, to retain for historical purposes, its importance in the development of meteorite-recovery in Southern Africa.

The first SAMRP webpage (1999) - where the the idea for an "amateur" run meteorite-recovery program for southern Africa was first proposed - can be found at this website:

Notes on Proposed Meteorite Recovery Program for Southern Africa - 1999

The webmaster for all of the following web pages is Trevor Gould:

Meteorite Recovery in Southern Africa

We have all seen and enjoyed watching meteors rushing dramatically across the night sky. If we have been fortunate and observant [I haven’t], we may have seen a daylight meteor.

Once a small chunk of interplanetary rock reaches the surface of the Earth it ceases to be a meteor and becomes a meteorite.

The recovery, preservation and study of meteorites is an important prelude to assembling the early the history of the Solar System.

I’m not going to write about meteors, because Tim Cooper does that excellently.

I’m also not going to write about the history of the Solar System, despite it being one of my major interests.

I intend to write to write about the recovery of meteorites in Southern Africa, but if I wander off the subject a little, I hope you will forgive me.

In July 1999, South Africa hosted the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society, an international inter-disciplinary body [see my other article in MNASSA] dedicated to a fairly range of planetary sciences, including the recovery and study of meteorites.

Up to now, the recovery of meteorites has been either a serendipitous process, resulting from seeing a fall, finding a large and unmistakable meteorite, or a short term project to find anything that may have fallen in a likely spot.

Following the 62nd Meeting of the Meteoritical Society at University of the Witwatersrand in July 1999, I got to thinking about the role of amateurs and the recovery of meteorites.

I also did some initial enquiries and put together an informal proposal which I sent off to Professor Wolf Uwe Reimold at the Department of Geology, U Wits. I considerd that this could be an ideal activity for amateurs to be involved in, and that the Johannesburg Centre would be an ideal body to run with the concept.

The initial proposal, rushed off before the results of the first enquiries were available was a little off the mark, but, nevertheless, here it is:


Notes on Proposed Meteorite Recovery Program for Southern Africa

Abstract Meteorites have been recovered in Southern Africa chiefly in those rare instances where they were seen to fall, or where the size of the meteorite was such that it was difficult to overlook.

No concerted effort has been directed to study the feasibility of recovering less obvious falls.

Obviously the viability of recovery varies inversely with rainfall and vegetation and in Southern Africa, this means an increasing recovery probability as one travels westwards.

The recovery exercise is an ideal project for amateurs to contribute directly to planetary science.

All recoveries will be handed in to Professor W U Reimold of the Geology Department of the University of the Witwatersrand, in accordance with the provisions of the National Monuments Act.


Scope This project intends to recover meteorites from:

[1] seasonal playa lakes, which dry up in the low rainfall months;

[2] erg surfaces in sandy deserts, where the meteorite impacts a sand dune, and settles with sand movement to a basal layer. The basal layer is exposed as the dune migrates.


[a] The project does not have resources to follow up legends of falls;

[b] micrometeorite recoveries; i.e. rain gauge collections

[c] witnessed falls; [through triangulation].

[d] fossil meteorite recoveries [magnetic recovery of material from mining operations].


Recovery Strategy

Playa Lakes

Playa lakes represent an opportunity to test recoveries strategies and in particular offer a monochrome surface, against some fresh falls will stand out in contrast.

However, older falls will assume the monochromaticity of the lake bed, owing to deposits of clay minerals stirred up during seasonal filling of the lake. These older falls MAY be found as a bump on the dry lake surface. Since the bed is usually one of very low relief, these items should also stand out.

Target sites will be obtained from progressively smaller scale maps. Ownership of the farms will be provided through the auspices of the Geology Department, University of the Witwatersrand. Owners will be contacted in advance for permission to conduct a research and recovery operation from the lake beds on their farms.

Once permission has been received, detailed mapping, preferably from aerial mapping, will be done. Grids will be set up along easy compass directions and team members will each be given one grid line [separated from the next by 10m] to walk.

A collector will walk behind the team with a cart. Once a likely piece has been found, the collector will bag and document it and place it on the cart.

A small team will test the viability of the procedures in advance of a full operation.

It is proposed to collect all suitable material using tongs [untouched by human hands], place them in plastic bags and seal them on the spot. A sticker on the bag will identify the collector, the lake bed name, the date and a gps location and a sample number.

In due course each sample number will be plotted on the map.


Recovery Strategy

Erg surfaces

Owing to the temporary nature of these surfaces, maps will provide only limited use: to identify areas where these surfaces exist.

Recent aerial maps, or local knowledge must be used to pinpoint suitable candidates.

As meteorites fall into sand dunes, the impact is cushioned to some degree. As saltation proceeds, the meteorites are left behind and gradually fall to a hard surface, where they accumulate together with other rock fragments.

Each field officer will be given one erg to walk along. For each recovery [estimated at a few per day] , the officer places a stick in the ground. A sticker is stuck to the stick to identify the sample number, which is bagged and labelled. Later, A GPS co-ordinate is obtained for each stick and noted on the sample bag.

It is estimated that erg surfaces [Namib Desert] will lie further afield than playa lakes [Karoo] and therefore playa lakes will enjoy priority, purely as a function of logistics.


Formal Approval Process Initial concept approval will be obtained from Professor W U Reimold of the Geology Department of the University of the Witwatersrand.

On modification, a pilot plan will be set up. The results of the pilot will ultimately further modify the concept.

Approval includes acceptance of recoveries by the Department of Geology, together with an assurance of communication of research papers to the team i.r.o. their recoveries.

The Department of Geology will be free to disseminate recoveries to any person doing research in this area, regardless of which country the research will be conducted in.



Pilot Project- Silver Streams

Professor Reimold accepted the proposal, and we set up a pilot project to test the concept feasibility.

Without using anything more high tech than a road map which showed a pan close to the road near Silver Streams, I managed to obtain the names and contact details for farmers who owned pieces of pan, and obtained permission to conduct a recovery operation on those parts [one farmer refused to grant permission over the weekend, another two accepted and one of those offered overnight accommodation].

Brian and Val Fraser and I conducted a search in September. We had considered that the chief problem may be heat and sun and we were indeed fortunate not to have to deal with that problem at all, as it had snowed in the vicinity overnight and the temperature was, taking wind chill into account, only just above freezing.

Just as I had hoped, a fair area of pan was free of vegetation, although much was covered with a short grass. Additionally, the bare area consisted of a light coloured calcrete, against which it was hoped that the black fusion crusts of meteorites would stand out in profusion.

Sure enough, a large number of black objects did stand out in profusion, but they all turned out to be the weathered remains of loose pieces of the underlying Transvaal Dolomite, which weathers to a black colour.

With such a low signal to noise ratio, no meteorites were recovered.

Subsequent Progress

A number of meteoriticists have provided useful information:

Dr Mike Zolensky [JSC, NASA] has advised that many meteorites in the Namib weather to a red/brown, not black.

Dr Sara Russell of the Natural History museum in London has also advised on legalities of collecting in Namibia, and also likely areas.

Dr Alex Bevan, curator of meteorites in Western Australia, has also helped with information on the 15 years of recovery operations he conducted in the deserts of Western Australia. In addition, he advised that in Australia searches are successfully conducted amongst the piles of stones farmers gather at the edge of fields.

They all wish us well.

Professor Reimold is concerned that we need to be less random in the selection of likely locations and to this end has suggested a meeting with a sedimentologist, Dion Brandt, of Wits Geology. This meeting identified bare areas of low sedimentation and high ablation that should multiply our chances of recovery.

The low sedimentation principle means that meteorite falls will not be covered rapidly by sand/ mud etc., and will remain exposed longer. The high ablation principle suggests that if a meteorite did become buried [and some meteorite are quite capable of digging holes!] the covering material will be blown away by wind [or washed away] to expose the underlying meteorite. The longer the time interval [the Kalahari is some 80 million years old], the more meteorites it will have soaked up, and the better the chances of recovering one or more.

The improved chances are however, offset by the high rate of weathering of meteorites, which, for stony meteorites makes them unidentifiable within a year.

Professor Reimold is also willing to conduct a training course for interested people who do not know how to identify a meteorite.

Team Members

Initially, we will restrict recovery team members to members of the Johannesburg Centre, but hopefully as the operation grows, we can include members of other centres, students and interested members of the general public.

If the operation does take off, it may provide a source of new members.

There are some costs, and these can be quite considerable. The first cost is transportation to the remote site [ meteorites seldom fall conveniently close to home], and the second is accommodation [we cannot rely on the goodwill of farmers].

Basic equipment is more than likely to hand anyway.

Team member functions include organisation [setting up an expedition], site selection, obtaining the names of owners of the site and obtaining permission from them to recover meteorites, photography of the meteorite before it is recovered, administration [assigning an initial unique identifier to the recovery], provision of transport, finding accommodation locally, handing the finds over to the University for study, obtaining feedback etc., catering on site, etc. We also need someone with knowledge of first aid. Whatever you can contribute will be used in some way and will be most welcomed. Here is another unusual opportunity for we amateurs to contribute to science.

If anyone would like the opportunity to get out of the city into the country for, probably, a weekend [the distance one can go is limited by the length of the weekend and the balance between search time and travel time], please contact:


Trevor Gould

Home:      011-886-5602
Mobile:    083-212-8945

As a personal preference, I find the word "non-professional" more appealing than "amateur". But this "proposal" seems to show that this group effort is off to a very good start!

It wasn't until two years later that the SAMRP conducted a survey of the Vaalputs National Nuclear Waste Disposal site about 100Km SE of Springbok in the Northern Cape. It has long been an idea of mine to have meteorite-recovery as part of any environmental impact study (EIR) - to be included with the archeological, paleontological and other surveys - especially for large tracts of barren land that will be rendered lost due to development. In this particular case, the site was barren, but it was also very sandy. Although no meteorites were recovered, their thorough report shows a great deal of effort is starting to show progressive results.

The SAMRP report of their Spring-2001 survey can be found at this website:

The Southern African Meteorite Recovery Program

Southern African
Meteorite Recovery Program

P.O. Box 2552

Amateurs in the Service of Science

Phone +27 11 886 5602
Mobile +27 83 212 8945
South Africa

Deo Gloria

Easter 2001 Expedition


Trevor Gould
Dr Paul Buchanan
John Ferraz
Rob, Freda and Jane Scott
Peter Baxter
Lynithe du Preez
Eric Brindeau


While two potential finds were returned to the University of the Witwatersrand Geology Department for analysis, none proved to be meteorites.

Acknowledgments and thanks

The team wish to thank the South African Heritage Resources Agency for kindly providing a permit to collect any meteorite finds in specific areas, and especially Ms Mary Leslie.

Thanks also go to the Department of Geology, University of the Witwatersrand, for general and specific assistance with the expedition and its objective.

We would also like to thank Dr Paul Buchanan, a professional meteoriticist, for taking time out to come along and share his expertise with us.

The staff of NECSA [Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa] are also thanked for their kind assistance, especially Dr Marco Andreoli [Pelindaba], Kobus Byleveld [Manager:Vaalputs Facility], and Rhona – who went out of her way to make our expedition one to remember, by providing a guided tour of the facility and local sights.

Expedition Area

The expedition search area was defined by Dr Dion Brandt to be the Vaalputs National Nuclear Waste Disposal site about 100Km SE of Springbok in the Northern Cape.

A large scale satellite image was made available. This was scanned and used in situ.

Site Description

Vaalputs is a large site [about 20Km on the long side] area split by a public road. The area to the West of the road [Garies] moves westward into mountains and includes the accommodation facilities. 1:50000 map number is 3018 Loeriesfontein.

The area to the East of the road is low lying [possible graben] in which sand has accumulated over a long period of time. Owing to strong winds the dune heights are low [about 5m], with a wavelength of about 500m. The wind ablation has scoured the place, presumably leaving any meteorites on the dune surfaces. The Waste disposal site is also here. Owing to the featureless nature of the terrain here, AEC recommend the use of a GPS.


To be formalised!

Friday 13 April 2001 The team met at Florida and drove on the standard route to Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp, Wolmaraanstad, Schweizer-Reineke, Vryburg, Kuruman, Upington, Pofadder, Springbok then South to Vaalputs, arriving at 18:00. Rhona from the Vaalputs staff arrived to meet us.
Saturday 14 Rhona kindly provided a tour of the Vaalputs Nuclear Waste facility. We met the Dachshunds and their puppies, as well as the cat and the tame meerkat. We were shown the indigenous gardens, the pits and Rhona stopped in the road to collect a little tortoise for Jane.

We performed the first meteorite search in the vicinity of the airfield, recovering one potential one [Peter Baxter – SA50, which turned out to be a concretion of some sort]. We saw leopard tracks and springbok.

Rhona took us to see the museum and canyon behind the Stoflkoof camp site in the afternoon. We then did a hike which took in springbok, jackal and a quiver tree forest [kokerboom].

Some viewing was washed out by strong winds, which made the telescope unstable.

Sunday 15 Rhona took us to the big kokerboom and Quoi-San paintings.

Another meteorite search at Vaalputs, during which team members saw a puffadder [Peter], a hare and tortoises.

A spectacular sunset was duly photographed. Later Rhona and family arrived to view the sky, but we were clouded out.

Monday 16 In the morning we hunted for meteorites South of Stofkloof. Some took a different route and Paul, Lyn and I went back to find them. Saw the moon, Venus, sunspots in daylight viewing. In the pre-dawn sky saw M57.
Tuesday 17 Rob, Freda and Jane left.

Started out at 05:15 to watch the sun rise at the canyon. Watched steenbok, brown duiker and heard an owl.

Drove to Kap-Kap in the morning, a circular structure seen on the satellite image. Hunted in the area at the back of the Garing chalets. Lyn found almandine garnet. Had dinner [a braai] at chalets.

Wednesday 18 Peter, Eric and Paul left. Lyn, John and I still here. Had full breakfast at Garing after breaking camp, cooked by John and Lyn. Left on gravel road to Garies. John got stuck in sandy river bed crossing and we had to dig him out. Found a vein of haematite. Also found the Namaqualand Wollastonite Mine (PTY) at Garies. Travelled on the main road from Garies through Kamieskroon to Springbok. Camped at Namastad [R10.00/night]. It was noisy and John slept in a Nama hut.
Thursday 19 Late start. Visited Carolusberg Copper Mine [not much found]; followed by Hoit’s Mine [a bunch of mines together] – nice specimens; Stayed at Springbok Caravan Park [better] . Saw dassies and birds.
Friday 20 Traveled North from Springbok through Steinkopf to Port Nolloth. Saw Khoraans, Baboons and found Muscovite schist. Met up with chap who farms oysters, abalone and Knysna seahorses. John bought some oysters. John and I enjoyed fresh oysters that night. Later visited Steinkopf library where we saw their rock collection and the guy who donated them came round and sold me a quartz crystal, later taking us into the veld to collect some for ourselves.

Stayed again at Springbok Caravan Park.

Saturday 21 Left Springbok and arrived at Black Mountain Mine, Aggenys. Mr. Pottie Potgieter, Chief Geologist showed us maps of the different ore bodies and gave us specimens. Then to Pofadder. Upington, Prieska, Douglas. Visited the confluence of the Orange and Vaal Rivers after sunset. Camped at Kimberley Caravan Park.
Sunday 22 Kimberley – Home. Saw rhinos and flamingoes.

List of mineral finds [non-meteoritic]

Almandine garnet schist Vaalputs
Haematite Vaalputs
Wollastonite Namaqualand Wollastonite Mine
Quartz crystals Steinkopf
Chrysocolla O’Kiep mines [Hoit’s], Carolusberg
Chalcopyrite O’Kiep mines [Hoit’s], Carolusberg
Bornite O’Kiep mines [Hoit’s], Carolusberg
Muscovite schist Port Nolloth road
Poss. Olivenite Hoit’s Mine
Pyrrotite Black Mountain,Aggenys
Chalcopyrite Black Mountain,Aggenys
Galena Black Mountain,Aggenys
Sphalerite Black Mountain,Aggenys
Epidote Upington


This proved to be one of the nicest expeditions so far. The presence of Dr Buchanan gave us the confidence that we were looking for the right kind of material, even if we didn’t find a meteorite.

The philosophy has always been to have an enriching experience first, something to remember, and not to focus exclusively and exhaustively on meteorite hunting, and the value of that approach proved itself once again.

 Spring, 2001

The next expedition will take place in a dune field North of Upington, but South of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park.  Dates will be announced closer to the time.

Trevor Gould

Again, another thorough report showing continued progress. But the great support that this group is getting from the various local professionals, now more than ever begs the question, "Why no recovered meteorites from this part of Africa by this well-supported group, when during the same time period there are so many finds reported in the Meteoritical Bulletin (No.86) just alone from the Southwestern USA?

The SAMRP report of their September-2001 survey can be found at this website:

The Southern African Meteorite Recovery Program survey of the area "North of Upington and South of the Kalahari Gemsbok Park":

Southern African Meteorite Recovery Program

P.O. Box 2552



Amateurs in the Service of Science

Phone +27 11 886 5602

Mobile +27 83 212 8945

South Africa

Deo Gloria

September 2001 Expedition


Trevor Gould
Stephan Laubscher
Brian Fraser
Val Fraser


More samples were returned to the University of the Witwatersrand for analysis than on the previous expedition. Of these three proved to be worthy of further analysis and Professor Uwe Reimold and Dr Paul Buchanan called for thin sections to be made. Unfortunately, they all proved to be volcanics.

Acknowledgments and thanks

The team wish to thank the South African Heritage Resources Agency for kindly providing a permit to collect any meteorite finds in specific areas, and especially Ms Mary Leslie.

Thanks also go to the Department of Geology, University of the Witwatersrand, for general and specific assistance with the expedition and its objective.

The location was clarified by Professor Bernie Moon: our thanks go to him for taking the time to help us.

We would also like to thank Stephan Laubscher, a professional geologist, for taking time out to come along and share his expertise with us.

Thanks are also conveyed to the Council for Geoscience, both in Pretoria and Upington, for assistance rendered.

Expedition Area

The search area was defined as the set of permanent dunes North of Upington and South of the Kalahari Gemsbok Park. The intention was to find locations with minimal sand, such that inter-dune areas would be essentially desert pavement and to search the inter-dune areas.

The logic of this approach was that even permanent dunes move slowly and that as they move they would absorb any meteorites and eventually deposit them on the trailing edge: i.e. the desert pavement.

Site Description

The inter-dune areas seen were extensively vegetated, and included thick sand cover. The dunes were vegetated to a higher degree than expected, but it would have been unlikely to find other than fresh falls on dune surfaces anyway.

Therefore searches were restricted to dry pan surfaces, of which there were a number in the vicinity.

The pans were of two types – the most common surface was covered in gravel and boulders related to erosion of Dwyka tillite, while less commonly we found salt encrusted surfaces with similar Dwyka tillite erosional remains.

The Dwyka represents a period of continental glaciation in South Africa, and this means that the provenance of the remains was generally far distant and of widely different rock types.

This provided a rich source of many different rock types, which also had the effect of reducing the signal to noise ratio hoped for: many rocks had magnetic signatures, and demonstrated expected meteoritic features.

A reasonably large number showed black ‘fusion crusts’ which proved to be desert patina. One even had a radial flow pattern on one side of a rounded dark rock, which looked just like and oriented meteorite: the radial pattern resulted from radiating dolomite crstals!

Another dark rock lay on the white salt surface [Norokei Pan] and showed regmaglypt features characteristic of iron meteorites: it is magnetic, heavy, but proved to be terrestrial.

On one salt pan [Wit Pan] which was relatively devoid of any rocks a number of tiny greenish rocks were found in what appeared to be a strewn field pattern: they were magnetic, but proved to be weathered lavas.

Expedition Diary

Saturday 8 September 2001 Stephan and I left at 02:00. Travelled directly to Upington. The destination was a Bed and Breakfast about 50Km North of Upington on the road to the Kalahari Gemsbok Park.

Our experience of the B’nB enables us to recommend it without hesitation: the owner provided excellent local knowledge, enables contacts to be made amongst local farmers, took us around to different places and made us feel welcome.

Stephan stayed at the B ‘n B, while I camped near a pan half a kilometre away.

Paul, the owner of the Kalahari Gastehuis, took us for a drive to one of his other farms past a commercial salt pan. We looked at some desert pavement areas, very complex in terms of the huge variety of rock types found, including jaspers, marble, lavas etc.

The drive included a number of high speed switchbacks over the dunes, which was marvellous!

We returned via the Noenieput road.

Sunday 9 Searched a pan [Blou Pan] to the North of the B ‘n B all day on another neighbour’s farm. The pan was covered wall to wall with dark rocks.

Later a farmer [Gysbert] and his wife arrived in their 4X4 and invited us to see their salt pan [Wit Pan]. We followed him, but the final trip to the salt pan was made on the back of the 4X4.

As one travelled over seemingly endless red dunes, one suddenly came across a blindingly white pan surface stretching for kilometres in all directions.

The farmer drove to the middle of the pan, dropped us off and told us he’d collect us at 17:30.

The salt pan experience was wonderful: the salt crust was thin – a few millimetres- and beneath it was a fine soft sand.

It was quite hot and the Sun reflected off the pure white surface: if it hadn’t been for copious quantities of sunblock we would have been pretty badly burned.

On returning in the twilight we saw a spring hare, a ring tailed mongoose and a mouse.

In the evening we drove into Upington for supplies.

Monday 10 The Sun rose on a beautiful windless day. My tent was parked on a red sand dune under a Shepherd Tree. There was a lot of tree’d vegetation on this sand dune and below it on all sides was a dry pan. The temperature at sunrise was about 6 degrees. The thin cirrus clouds showed high wind speeds aloft.

A small family of meerkats live on the dunes.

We first went to the offices of the Council for Geoscience in Upington.

After lunch Stephan and I searched the commercial salt pan [Norokei Pan]. On our return to the B ‘n B, Brian and Val had arrived.

We had hoped to do some observing in the evening, but clouds appeared out of nowhere and put paid to that idea.

Tuesday 11 A big storm swept through the area at about 02:00. I awoke at 02:00, thirsty, and spied a can of Coke that I had left in the tent and drank it. A few raindrops struck the tent, which flapped around in the wind.

Gysbert took us to a distant pan [Filanders Pan] which we spent the morning searching on.

In the afternoon we searched Bloupan. It was cold- of the order of 7 degrees, with a freezing wind. You could see the wind coming, accompanied by dust, and the most effective defense was to turn your back to it.

On our return to the B ‘n B, we heard about New York. The world had changed. We felt very sorry for the innocent victims.

Stephan expressed an observation that we were never going to find any meteorite, unless we stumble across one. He felt that our time would be better spent looking at the Namaqualand flowers, on the grounds that at least the flowers were there.

This observation disappointed me and left me feeling very de-motivated, but in retrospect, our task must be done. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Wednesday 12 We travelled back into Upington and visited the Upington High School, which was reported to have a meteorite.

The Headmaster told us that it had been given to the school in 1940 by a farmer, and that it had become part of the school tradition. This large rock lay next to the Headmaster’s desk on the carpet.

It proved to be magnetite. The Headmaster was advised that if one finds such things, it is always best to hand them in for analysis: then only can one be sure.

In the afternoon we travelled to the farm next door to the B ‘n B – a distance of about 50Kms away – to look at another reported meteorite, which also proved to be a lump of magnetite.

The wind was cold and strong and blew all night.

Thursday 13 The cold front continued to intensify and in the morning the temperature inside the tent was 5.7 degrees. The clouds dissipated, but not the wind.

We spent the day searching on Norokei Pan and Komkom Pan.

It rained during the night, but didn’t really make anything wet. Huge gusts of wind. It has been cold for almost all of our stay.

Friday 14 Broke camp. Watched the sun rise over the Kalahari dunes for the last time. Went to the B ‘n B for a bath. We went via Upington to Augrabies Falls, where apart from the wonderful scenery, we watched CNN reporting on the World Trade Centre.

We then travelled westwards, stopping at Aggenys, then on to Springbok, where Stephan and I camped. Brian and Val stayed at the Springbok Lodge, which has a lovely mineral collection. After booking in, we all drove to Port Nolloth and watched the Sun set over the Atlantic from the deck of a supply vessel. We all observed the green flash – the first time in my life I had seen it.

Saturday 15 Broke camp, and went to Nababeep and visited the Mine Museum, which was good. The Namaqualand flowers were all around and provided a magnificent specatacle. We drove South on the main road toward Cape Town, losing Brian and Val in the process.

At Vanrhynsdorp we turned off and drove over the Vanryns Pass to Calvinia, Williston, Carnarvon, Victoria West and toward Kimberley. We stopped on the side of the road for a short sleep at Heuningneskloof, a place which brought back old memories for me, then through Kimberley and back to Johannesburg.

The total journey distance was in excess of 4000Kms.


Despite the lack of success, we built some local knowledge and experience of the art of meteorite hunting.

Given one recoverable meteorite per grid 10Kms on a side, we would be within 5Km of one if we stood in the middle of the grid. This looks easy, but let’s look a little more deeply.

A searcher can successfully scan 2.5m on either side and therefore searchers are spread 5m apart. On a 10Km side, there are 2000 search lines, each 10Km long. To find one recoverable meteorite, expect to walk 20 000Kms!

The grid of 100 square km. is also slightly optimistic, as the Saharan experience is one meteorite per 200 square Km.

Again, you assume that your under-trained searcher will recognise a meteorite after walking in the hot sun all day.

I am not surprised we have found nothing as yet, but the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.


Spring 2002

For the Spring Expedition, we’ll be returning to the Upington / Kalahari Gemsbok district. The Expedition will be paired with a Deep Sky Observing Expedition, again under the auspices of the Johannesburg Centre.

Dates are: Good Friday 29 March to Sunday 7 April.

Hope you join us for this exciting Kalahari Safari!

Trevor Gould

Again, another thorough report. It has been very interesting reading the various assumptions that have been written in these various web pages. The above "Comments" section was very insightful. The conclusions that have been drawn - to explain the lack of finds up to now - are quite at odds to the observations made by field workers here in the Southwestern USA. In time, if these disparities continue, it may become important to reconcile these differences. There could be something of importance to be learned.

And finally, here is the latest SAMRP web page, to the best of my knowledge, but so far there has been no follow-up to the results of this proposed meteorite recovery field trip.

The SAMRP announcement of their post-Easter-2003 field trip can be found at this website:

CANOPUS 03/03 - Southern African Meteorite Recovery Program - invitation to join the post-Easter 2003 Expedition to the Kalahari semi-desert, North of Upington, to search for historic meteorite falls:

Southern African Meteorite Recovery Program

P.O. Box 2552

Amateurs in the
Service of Science

Phone +27 11 886 5602
Mobile +27 83 212 8945
South Africa

Deo Gloria

Post-Easter 2003 Expedition

You are invited to join the post-Easter 2003 Expedition to the Kalahari semi-desert, North of Upington, to search for historic meteorite falls.

Dates: Saturday 26 April to Sunday 4th May [or part thereof].

Volunteers who are prepared to assist with the search for meteorites are requested to contact the writer for further information. Those who would simply enjoy joining the expedition in order to observe from exceptionally dark skies are also welcome.

Note: while it may be possible to stay at or near a Bed ‘n Breakfast establishment, it may prove necessary to camp in remote area with no access to ablution facilities.

Volunteers need to be fit to walk the expected distances. No medical facilities will be available.

The timing is intended to fall between the cold of winter and the heat of summer, however, the week away could well see heat, cold, wind and rain.

Nights are usually cold, but clear, and telescopes for star viewing will be brought along. Note that electrical power is unlikely to be available on campsites.

Roads are usually suitable for ordinary sedan vehicles: bakkies or 4X4’s, while useful, should not be necessary.

For those able to come, there will be a workshop covering both procedure / logistics of the Expedition and Field Recognition of Meteorites to be held at the Observatory 18a Gill Street, Observatory, Johannesburg at 20:00 Friday 11 April 2003. We hope that some real meteorites will be available at the workshop.

This workshop will also provide a sample list of things to bring, including food, water, camping equipment, medicals etc. Meteorite hunting equipment will be available.

The Itinerary shown is subject to change.

Itinerary for Meteorite Hunters

Saturday 26 April Travel to Witsand Nature Reserve. Camp. For those who wish to stay in accommodation, please contact Witsand directly. Witsand is the home of the Roaring Sands of the Kalahari. Watch the sun set from the top of one of the dunes.
Sunday 27 April Public Holiday. Nature walk. Mid-morning travel to Koppieskraal Pan, just South of the Kalahari Gemsbok Park. Camp. Observe the brilliant night skies of the Kalahari weather permitting.
Monday 28 April Public Holiday. Meteorite hunting. Observe from the ultimate dark sky site.
Tuesday 29 April Meteorite hunting. Observe from the ultimate dark sky site.
Wednesday 30 April Meteorite hunting. Observe from the ultimate dark sky site.
Thursday 1 May Public Holiday. New Moon. Meteorite hunting. Observe from the ultimate dark sky site.
Friday 2 May Travel to Augrabies Falls. Camp or obtain accommodation. Some hiking in the beautiful reserve.
Saturday 3 May Hiking at Augrabies Falls. Travel to Kimberley and camp at the magnificent Municipal Camp Ground in sight of the Kimberley Mine headgear.
Sunday 4 May Return home

Trevor Gould


  • Workshop on Extraterrestrial Materials from Cold and Hot Deserts (1999 : Pilanesberg, South Africa). Workshop on extraterrestrial materials from cold and hot deserts : July 6-8, 1999, Kwa- Maritane, Pilanesberg, South Africa / edited by Ludolf Schultz ... [et al.] ; sponsored by Lunar and Planetary Institute, Max- Planck-Institut fur Chemie, University of the Witwatersrand. Houston, TX : Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1999. (LPI contribution ; no 997).

    References related to "Meteorite-Recovery":

    Poster presented at the Workshop on Extraterrestrial Materials from Cold and Hot Deserts


    OTHER References related to "meteorite-recovery rates":

    Papers presented at Workshop on Extraterrestrial Materials from Cold and Hot Deserts
    D. Weber, J. Zipfel and A. Bischoff: The Libyan meteorite population. In: Workshop on Extraterrestrial Materials from Cold and Hot Deserts, Kwa-Maritane, Pilanesberg, South Africa 1999. (Eds.) L. Schultz, I.A. Franchi, A.M. Reid, M.E. Zolensky. Lunar and Planetary Institute Contribution No. 997, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston 1999, 81-82.


    From Ron Baalke

    Workshop on Extraterrestrial Materials from Cold and Hot Deserts
    Pilanesberg, South Africa
    July 6 - 8, 1999

    Where, When, and What

    The Workshop on Extraterrestrial Materials from Hot and Cold Deserts will take place in the Kwa-Maritane Resort in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, about 130 km northwest of Johannesburg from July 6 to 8, 1999 prior to the Meteoritical Society Meeting in Johannesburg.

    It is planned to leave Johannesburg by bus on July 6th (about noon) and return on July 8th in the evening. This schedule will allow those attending to participate in the Vredefort excursion prior to the MetSoc `99 meeting.

    This Workshop aims at bringing together persons working with meteorites or micrometeorites found in the Arctic, the Antarctic, and in hot deserts. Talks and posters (if the number of submitted presentations is more than about 30) on the following topics are welcome:

    - new meteorite searches and their results

    - unique or rare types of meteorites

    - weathering effects of meteorites and implications

    - differences between desert meteorites and modern falls

    - cosmogenic nuclides and age distributions

    - comparisons between micrometeorites and IDPs collected in the stratosphere

    - collections, handling, consortia

    Call for Abstracts

    Similar to previous Workshops on this topic we plan to publish extended abstracts (up to 5 pages) in the form of a LPI Technical Report. Please submit your abstract to Ludolf Schultz before May 15, 1999 as a hard copy and a Word file. After the meeting the abstract can be revised and the final version will then be due on Sept. 15, 1999.


    The topic of my next few articles will continue a series on California and Nevada Meteorites.

    My previous articles can be found *HERE*

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