Sharon and Richard Walker bought a metal detector
to try gold prospecting, but unearthed something better -- a rare
The Colorado Springs couple discovered the 8.5-ounce space rock (pictured, left)
just 45 minutes into their first outing. The rock was heavy for its
size, had strange markings and was magnetic.
The two, both Department of Defense investigators, knew they had
something special. Jack Murphy, curator of geology at the Denver
Museum of Nature and Science, confirmed it.
Murphy and the Walkers showed off the meteorite during a news
"We were trying to find gold and we come to find out the
meteorite might be worth more than gold," said Walker, 58.
That's because iron meteorites are uncommon. The Walkers' space
rock, found in October 2000 near Cotopaxi, is the first iron
meteorite found in Colorado in 30 years and the first in the
country since one recovered in Nevada in 1995.
Only 14 of the 75 known meteorites found in Colorado are iron.
The rest are stone.
"This is exciting," Murphy said. "This is a real advancement
The Walkers' meteorite isn't related to the two fireballs seen
streaking across the skies earlier this week from Utah to Kansas to
New Mexico. Murphy said their rock probably hurtled to Earth about
100 years ago.
The Walkers donated a piece of their rock, about three-quarters
of an ounce, to the museum. Another piece is being analyzed at UCLA
by John Wasson, considered one of the world's experts on iron
The Walkers haven't decided what to do with the rest of the
rock: keep it, donate it or sell it. Richard Walker said they have
been told the meteorite per ounce is worth more than gold.
Murphy said such discoveries are invaluable in helping answer
more questions about the universe. "They're little pieces of rock
that come to Earth free of charge," he said.
Museum officials said Wasson has told them the new find is
significant because it represents a new grouping within one of the
main classifications of iron meteorites.
Wasson's chemical analysis shows the rock also contains nickel,
arsenic and iridium.
Most meteorites are from the asteroid belt between Mars and
Jupiter. Murphy said iron meteorites likely aren't found often
because they're heavier and slam into the ground with more force,
burying themselves deeper.