Bring Your Finds to Mystery Mineral Day February 23, 2019

Mark your calendars for the next Mystery Mineral Day, scheduled for Saturday, February 23, 2019 in the Northwest Gallery. This always-anticipated event runs from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and is included with admission to the museum.

Every year, the Museum organizes a panel of experts in the fields of rock & mineral identification, fossil study, and meteorite analysis. We bring together experts from multiple fields to inspect your “mystery” finds and tell you what you’ve found. Represented organizations include:

  • The North America Research Group (NARG), a prominent local fossil study organization
  • The Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory (CML), the leading Oregon resource for meteorite identification, based at Portland State University
  • Noted mineral collectors on the Museum’s Board of Directors; past experts included Gene Meieran, Scott Akenbrand, and Bruce Carter
  • Staff from the Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals, including Curator Julian Gray

One of the exciting opportunities you can take advantage of is the chance to present potential meteorites to the panel. Most such specimens turn out to be “meteor-wrongs” and end up being slag, parts of old tools, or other man-made objects. But not always. In 1999 Donald Wesson and his wife Debbie discovered a large, interesting rock in a ditch in Oregon’s Morrow County and carried it home. After 10 years of storage, Mr. Wesson was inspired by a television show about meteorites to take the rock to a local county fair. Experts there were intrigued, and eventually, the 40-lb. rock was indeed verified as a meteorite. The Wessons sold their find, and in late 2018, it was acquired permanently by the Rice NW Museum and is now on display here. If you’ve got an old specimen laying around that you’ve always wondered about, bring it in!

Gravels from the Willamette River and the Pacific Ocean beaches are a specialty every year, and our panel excels in identifying agates, jasper, quartz, and petrified wood. Mystery Mineral Day is also a great opportunity to show off any noteworthy discoveries you made recently, to make the curator aware of your finds. In 2018, local collector Mike Kaufman brought in some excellent amethyst and quartz specimens he discovered in Tillamook County along a logging road in Oregon’s Coast Range. A pair of the noteworthy pieces are now on display thanks to Mike’s generous loan to the Museum.

Mystery Mineral Day- February 24, 2018!

Mystery Mineral Day is happening Saturday, February 24, 2018 from 10 AM to 2 PM at the museum.

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A participant at Mystery Mineral Day 2017 had her treasures identified by Bruce.

A panel of experts will be ready and waiting for you to bring your unknown rocks, minerals, fossils, gems, and potential meteorites for identification.

Have you always wondered what to call that cool crystal you picked up on a hike that one day? Did you inherit a collection, but it’s missing some labels? Do you think you may have found a fossil bone or a rock from outer space? Our experts are volunteering at this event just for you, so don’t be shy. Come on by!

 

This event is included with general admission. Admission is $12.00 for adults, $10.00 for seniors, and $8.00 for students (ages 5-17) and veterans/active military. Children 4 and under are free.

Mystery Mineral Day- February 25!

Mystery Mineral Day is happening Saturday, February 25, from 10 AM to 2 PM at the museum. A panel of experts will be ready and waiting for you to bring your unknown rocks, minerals, fossils, gems, and potential meteorites for identification!

Have you always wondered what to call that cool crystal you picked up on a hike that one day? Did you inherit a collection, but it’s missing some labels? Do you think you may have found a fossil bone or a rock from outer space? Our experts are volunteering at this event just for you, so don’t be shy. Come on by!

This event is included with general admission.

Meteorite and Family Fun Day this Saturday, June 4

Come join us this Saturday for talks and activities about rocks from outer space. Dick Pugh of the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory will be bringing an extensive collection of meteorites for visitors to touch after his talks at 11 AM and 1 PM.

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Ever wonder where meteorites come from, or why they make fireballs in the sky? Do you want to go meteorite hunting, or do you perhaps already have a rock you suspect might be a meteorite? Learn the answers to these questions and more. Talks are great for families and people of all ages.

Kids’ activities will also be taking place throughout the day.

Admission is reduced to $5 for all ages and includes entrance to the museum all day (10 AM – 5 PM).

Meteorite and Family Fun Day this Saturday, May 23rd

Come out tomorrow between 10 AM and 5 PM for meteorite talks and science activities here at the Rice Museum. Admission will be reduced to $5 per person for the day (children 4 and under are still free). Check out the schedule of events below. In addition to the listed events, kids’ crafts will be running and available all day!

Meteorite Day Schedule Descriptions

Meteorite and Family Fun Day is May 23

Asteroid, meteor, meteorite: what’s the difference? Come find out on May 23rd at our Meteorite and Family Fun Day! The event runs from 10 AM through 5 PM and features talks by an expert, meteorite identification, and fun activities for kids. Admission is reduced to $5 for all visitors (children 4 and under are free).

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Dick Pugh of the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory at Portland State University will be giving talks at 11 AM and 1 PM, exploring famous meteorite falls as well as meteorite science. If you have a possible meteorite you’d like him to identify, please try to arrive before 2 PM.

Kids will enjoy touching real meteorites found in locations all over the world. Additional science activities and crafts will be fun for the whole family!

Mystery Mineral Day, Saturday February 28, 2015

If you have any rock, mineral, fossil, gem, or meteorite that you have wanted identified, then you are in luck.  A panel of experts will be on hand on Saturday, February 28, 2015 from 10 AM to 2 PM to not only identify your stone, but tell you its history and other important facts about it. This event is free with regular admission.

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Mystery Mineral Day at the Rice NW Museum, February 28, 2015 from 10 AM to 2 PM

Curiousity Rover Finds Its First Meteorite on Mars

This week it was announced that NASA’s Curiosity Rover has found its first iron meteorite on Mars. The meteorite represents a time capsule for scientists to study and learn more about our universe.

Photograph from Curiousity on Mars of the largest Iron Meteorite found on Mars. Image by NASA.

Meteorites found on Mars are of special interest as they had little atmosphere to pass through on their way to the planet, and little weather to wear them away, keeping them almost as pristine as when they arrived in our solar system. Continue reading

The Meteorite

The Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum is home to many “out of this world” meteorites, most of them prepared and presented by the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory of Portland State University. On a visit to the museum, you will have a chance to touch our amazing Gibeon Meteorite from Africa. There is so much iron in that meteorite, it feels really cold to the touch.

Meteorites are naturally occurring objects that come from space and survive penetrating the Earth’s atmosphere. Most meteorites originate in the asteroid (an object in space too small to be a planet) belt between Mars and Jupiter, but some meteorites are pieces of Mars or the moon.

Every May, the Museum celebrates our annual Meteorite and Family Fun Day. Until them, let’s learn more about meteorites.

There are three main types of meteorites: stony, stony-iron and iron.

The most abundant type of meteorite is the stony meteorite, which accounts for over 90% of all recorded meteorite falls. The subgroup chondrites are most abundant. Iron meteorites account for ~5% of all meteorite falls.

Meteorite sizes vary greatly from small (dust) to large (5 to 7 miles wide). The frequency with which the Earth is bombarded by meteorites depends on the meteorite’s size. Small meteorites impact the Earth very frequently, whereas large meteorites impact much more rarely.

Meteorites are named after the locations where they are found. Oregon meteorites include an iron meteorite from Klamath Falls, a stony meteorite from Salem, an iron meteorite from Sams Valley, and an iron meteorite from Willamette.

Here is information about the specific types of meteorites.

Stony Meteorites

The stony meteorites are composed of mostly rocky material (silicate minerals) and contain a small amount of iron and nickel. There are two main types of stony meteorites – chondrites (have never been melted) and achondrites (melted and thus differentiated such that heavy metals sank to the core and the lighter silicates floated).

Stony-Iron Meteorites

The stony-irons are made up of an almost equal mixture of iron-nickel metal and silicate minerals. Pallasites are a common example of stony-iron meteorites.

Iron Meteorites

Iron meteorites are composed primarily of iron and nickel metal. These meteorites most likely represent the metallic cores of asteroid bodies.

More Information on Meteorites

To help you learn more about meteorites in general, here are some helpful educational resources and articles.