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Meteorite search techniques


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OK so I spent time in Franconia and also have been walking dry lakes and playas out here in the southwest looking for meteorites. In a place like Franconia with a lot of other types of Earth rocks laying around, I can see why it would be better to use a detector and swing the most of time, but do you ever also just do a visual walk through with a magnet on a stick and have you been successful doing it there without a detector?

The visual only survey method seems like it would be much more efficient when covering a large lake bed like this one we were at yesterday where there are very few stones laying about that are easy to see.  What would you do here?

C1DF7FCF-87EC-4C15-85A6-7C990A9DD378.jpeg

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1 minute ago, Morlock said:

The best time to hunt is early morning and late afternoon or evening. Have the sun on your back in both cases. 

What sun? :rolleyes:  Sounds like a good idea, I even considered riding a bicycle while doing it to cover more ground. Do you even bother with a metal detector when the stones are spread out like that?

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42 minutes ago, GotAU? said:

What sun? :rolleyes:  Sounds like a good idea, I even considered riding a bicycle while doing it to cover more ground. Do you even bother with a metal detector when the stones are spread out like that?

Really...it's much easier to spot stones with the sun at your back at all times either in the AM or PM. Try it and you'll see what I mean. I wouldn't even bother hunting with the sun overhead.

Never tried riding a bicycle but that might be a good idea assuming you can ride slow. Too fast and you'll miss some potential targets. A large tricycle would be better since you could go even slower. 😉😉😉

A stick or hoe with a good magnet on the end is really all you need for dry lakes.

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Those are great ideas, especially in the summer -who wants to be out on a hot lake bed with the sun beating down on you from right above!

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4 hours ago, GotAU? said:

especially in the summer -who wants to be out on a hot lake bed

Night hunting can be rewarding rather than put up with the heat!

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28 minutes ago, mn90403 said:

Night hunting can be rewarding rather than put up with the heat!

You are so right! My wife and I actually love hiking in the desert at night, we take a mineral light to look for fluorescent minerals and the occasional scorpion, and also a portable spotlight to look for various nocturnal snakes like the beautiful little banded sand snakes and my favorites- banded geckos.  And nothing beats a summertime desert sunset, I love it when the heat of the day lingers as night comes.  I would think with the right lights casting shadows it would be pretty easy to see rocks on a lake bed that way too.

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2 hours ago, GotAU? said:

You are so right! My wife and I actually love hiking in the desert at night, we take a mineral light to look for fluorescent minerals and the occasional scorpion, and also a portable spotlight to look for various nocturnal snakes like the beautiful little banded sand snakes and my favorites- banded geckos.  And nothing beats a summertime desert sunset, I love it when the heat of the day lingers as night comes.  I would think with the right lights casting shadows it would be pretty easy to see rocks on a lake bed that way too.

Have you had much luck searching for fluorescent minerals with your Mineral Light?

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4 hours ago, Morlock said:

Have you had much luck searching for fluorescent minerals with your Mineral Light?

Oh yes, one of our favorite places was actually in Franconia as well.  I posted about it in Bob’s scorpion thread I think. I’ll put a new post about it in the minerals thread. Its a great activity to do around camp at night!

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28 minutes ago, Morlock said:

What are you finding? Any multicolored specimens?

Calcedony and calcite rocks, make a nice green and red together, lots of that in Franconia. The calcite glows like a charcoal briquette. Some small blue pieces as well- I think it’s fluorite.

 

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I've used a bike on a dry lake before, mostly to get from one hunt area to another.  I try not to use metal detectors unless absolutely necessary like Franconia (although I have found a couple there by eye, which is mostly luck there), they slow me down too much.

 

22Jun2013-StV-001.jpg

Edited by Mikestang
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2 hours ago, GotAU? said:

Calcedony and calcite rocks, make a nice green and red together, lots of that in Franconia. The calcite glows like a charcoal briquette. Some small blue pieces as well- I think it’s fluorite.

 

Calcite and chalcedony are common two color combinations. If you can find 4 or 5 color combinations...those are worth some money in the collectors market.

 I'm assuming you take your Mineral Light everywhere you go. Tailing piles around mines can produce fantastic multicolor specimens. Some go for 100's of dollars should you find any.

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15 hours ago, Morlock said:

Have you had much luck searching for fluorescent minerals with your Mineral Light?

Just for anyone who wants to know more about this, here’s Bob’s post about UV lights. Morlock provided some very good information in it and I put in some photos I took of the minerals I found with it in Franconia:

 

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1 hour ago, mn90403 said:

What is a good mineral light to get?

Michael- this is a good starter one that is inexpensive yet well designed and has both long and short wave UV at 11w.  Be sure to wear the included goggles to protect your eyes while using it:

https://www.uvtools.com/products/copy-of-m100ho-11-watt-shortwave-ultraviolet-lamp-kit

If you want one with higher UV output and price, Morlock recommended this professional quality one: 

https://www.engeniousdesigns.com/product-page/drk-light

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Hi All

When hunting dry lakes generally the edges or beaches seem to hold the best results. I think over time the rocks seem to move to the sides generally the eastern edges . The beaches, stone or gravel build up may vary depending on general winds direction. Hunting those seam to be more productive. I know Roger spent a fare amount of time hunting the waves and rocky beaches with a VLF beeper and did well. Dry lakes are tough detecting because of salts and mineral concentrations but turning down sensitivity will help some. When you get over anything that will stick to a magnet you should certainly hear it with a definite response on your beeper. Remember to make sure you are in full or all metal mode and not Iron discriminate. I've spect a few at Gold Basin and Franconia but the desert pavement and basalts make it a tough way to hunt. I hope this helps a little ?? 

Happy Huntin John B.

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Hello John, thanks for your recommendations. Interesting point about stones concentrating on the downwind side of a lake bed. Do you suspect it’s the same process as what is happening to those boulders out on Racetrack Playa in Death Valley? It’s pretty interesting how they can move around like that, and I can certainly see how smaller stones could be moved along by the wind, even without leaving very deep marks in the silt. The lake I was out at most recently (in the photo above) had quite lot of alluvial deposits across the edges which would’ve helped hide meteorites  if they were present. Instead we did what every other beginner would’ve done and walked out into the middle of the lake. I’ll have to use a detector around the edges next time we are there.

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I've seen lots of examples of "sailing stones", the most dramatic I've ever come across was at General Dry Lake.  I have no explanation why only the LARGEST stone moved, seems counter intuitive.

 

general11.jpg

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Also seen "sailing sticks", my friend in the background following the trail.  Interesting that the prevailing wind shifted 90* there at the end.  Maybe that's when the season changed.

20151219_162608.jpg

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Well, something I didn't know about those rock tracks across playas. It isn't actually sailing rocks, it's more like rocks being dragged:  https://earthsky.org/earth/death-valley-sliding-slithering-sailing-stone-mystery-solved/

Maybe this is why only the larger ones leave tracks... the smaller ones simply don't dig in as hard.

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1 hour ago, Mikestang said:

Jason Utas has some nice little video clips as well.

 

That’s cool!  He did well documenting those. He also has some good clips of searching for meteorites in Nevada. Thanks for the links!

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16 hours ago, Mikestang said:

I've seen lots of examples of "sailing stones", the most dramatic I've ever come across was at General Dry Lake.  I have no explanation why only the LARGEST stone moved, seems counter intuitive.

 

general11.jpg

I’d guess the the tops of the small rocks are below the bottom of the ice sheet that moved the large stone.

Edited by d_day
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