In February, a 10,000 ton meteor exploded over Russian skies. The once-in-a-lifetime light show captured the attention of the entire world. Now, the fallout has attracted the attention of treasure hunters – literally.
The meteor explosion sent thousands of meteorites (fragments) flying across the Russian landscape. The city of Chelyabinsk is believed to have a particularly dense amount of meteorites, so treasure hunters, space enthusiasts, and scientists have descended on the area to collect the valuable fragments – creating a veritable “meteorite rush.”
Unlike a gold rush however, no one is quite sure how much the fragments are worth, or even how to properly identify them. Essentially, if fewer meteorites are found, they will be worth more with some optimistic estimates reaching $2,000 per gram.
If the meteor was made of precious metals the meteorites would be worth so much more. However, scientists are classifying the fragments they have found as chondrites, which are mostly stone and about 10% iron. Russian citizens have been selling fragments for as little as $30 online, but there is no way to tell if the fragments are actually meteorites or just ordinary stones.
Since the meteor was so large, the number of fragments must truly be vast. Perhaps “meteorite prospecting” will be the next big Russian industry.