Australian metal detectorist David Hole came across a very unusual looking rock in 2015.
He foud it in Maryborough Regional Park near Melbourne, the site of a well known 19th century gold rush.
Hoping he’d found some gold of his own, Hole took the rock home and attempted to break it open.
Drills, sledgehammers, and acid all failed to break open the stubborn stone but Hole held on to the rock anyway, thinking he’d figure out what to do with it eventually.
Rock turns out to be space rock
After storing the unknown rock for several years, Hole finally decided to take it to the natural history museum in Melbourne in 2019 to ask if they could tell him anything about what he had found.
Dermot Henry, a geologist at the Melbourne Museum, needed only a brief look at the rock to know that Mr. Hole would not be getting any gold out of it.
Henry was very used to curious people bringing in strange looking rocks they had found and asking if they might be meteorites. Only two of the suspicious rocks brought in during his nearly four decades at the museum have turned out to be real meteorites.
The rock which Mr. Hole had stumbled across was the second of those two finds. The thrilled geologist was quickly able to confirm that he had brought in something even better than gold.
The geologist used a diamond saw to carefully slice off the edge of the meteorite and reveal tiny silver droplets which are believed to have come from silicate which crystallized at the birth of the Solar System.
This makes the rock which Mr. Hole had been keeping on his shelf 4.6 billion years old according to tests done at the museum, meaning that it is older than the earth itself.
”Just pot luck, mate”
The meteorite is made of H5 chrondite, formed of dust particles which accumulated in the formative Solar System in the same manner as the Earth and other planets were ultimately formed.
Geologist Dermot Henry describes meteorites found on the Earth’s surface as “the cheapest form of space exploration” and a crucial tool for understanding the Solar System.
This particular meteorite is believed to have arrived on our planet anywhere between 100 and 1,000 years ago, with some time in the last 200 years being most likely due to an absence of weathering on the surface of the rock.
Reports of a meteor being sighted over Maryborough in June 1951 may indicate that this exact meteorite was seen falling through the Earth’s atmosphere by locals.
The meteorite was named after Maryborough, where it landed and went unnoticed for decades until David Hole happened to find it while hoping to get lucky and find gold.
Of the priceless rock he found instead, Mr. Hole stated that “It was just pot luck, mate. A billion to one – bigger, a trillion to one”