IMCA Insights – July 2007
Ensisheim Meteorite Show 2007
by Norbert Classen

Welcome to the July issue of IMCA Insights and our second meteorite show report for this year, Ensisheim 2007. The show was opening its gates for the 8th time from June 15 to 17, 2007, and it proved to be the best Ensisheim event ever, with even more international visitors, collectors, dealers, and scientists from all over the world. If you have never been to Ensisheim: it's the place of one of the oldest witnessed meteorite falls, and it's an absolute must for every guest to pay at least a short visit to the remaining mass of the Thunderstone of Ensisheim which fell in 1492, and which serves as the centerpiece of the annual Ensisheim show which is organized by the St. Georges Confraternity of the Ensisheim Meteorite Guardians (Confrérie des Gardiens de la Météorite d'Ensisheim) inside of the historic Regency Palace.

Main Mass of the Ensisheim Meteorite

The remaining main mass of the famous Thunderstone of Ensisheim
Photo courtesy Francesco Moser

The show always starts on Fridays – the so-called dealers day – with the dealers setting up their tables, trading meteorites, and having fun. Then, at 6 p.m., the main hall is closed, and the people gather for the official opening of the show, and the traditional ceremonies. It is time for the enthroning of the new Guardians of the Ensisheim meteorite – a special honour since the Brotherhood of Guardians is a rather exclusive club that accepts just about a handful of new members each year, solely on appointment basis. Each appointment to membership honours the specific merits of the respective new member in participating in various ways to promote the historic Thunderstone of Ensisheim, as well as meteorites and meteoritics in general.

New Guardian of the Ensisheim meteorite: Anne Black

New Guardian of the Ensisheim meteorite: IMCA President Anne Black
Photo courtesy Hanno Strufe

Due to a tight work schedule and some close deadlines I missed the opening ceremonies, this year, but I'm glad to announce that most of this years new Guardians are IMCA members, such as Rainer Bartoschewitz and his wife Claudia Bartoschewitz from Gifhorn, Germany, Alexander Seidel from Berlin, Germany, Laurent Jaworski from Belfort, France, and - last but not least - our own Mrs. President, Anne Black from Denver, Colorado! They were enthroned by Jean Marie Blosser, the Grand Maître de la Confrérie des Gardiens de la Météorite d'Ensisheim, and welcomed by Zelimir Gabelica, the organizer of the show.

International Guests at the "La Couronne"

International guests at the Friday dinner party at "La Couronne":
Sergey Vasiliev, Moritz Karl, Dave Schultz, Greg Hupe,
Mike Farmer, Robert Ward, Devin Schrader...
Photo courtesy Hanno Strufe

After the ceremonies it was time for the obligatory Friday night dinner party at "La Couronne", with more visitors than ever. According to Zelimir, more than 80 guests had reserved for the dinner party, and it is a pleasure to see that the number of overseas visitors is rising, each year. Among the first time visitors were such prominent names as Greg Hupe, Robert Ward, Devin Schrader, John Kashuba and his wife Mary from the US, as well as Patrick Herrmann and his family from Canada. Dave Schultz visited the show just for the second time, and there were many more people from the US, such as Mike Farmer, Terry Boswell, and Anne Black. I really missed Jim Strope, this year, but he already announced that he intends to come again, next year.

Meteorite Mania & More

I arrived at the show on Saturday at about 11 a.m., and I was welcomed by my Austrian friends Christian Anger and Harald Stehlik. As usual, it took me more than a hour to get into the Regency Palace as there were too many friends to welcome, and to talk with. When I finally entered the main hall where all the dealers had their tables and stalls I was delighted to see a great selection of old and new meteorite finds, as well as fresh new falls that I will mention, below. About 40 meteorite dealers had their goodies for sale, this year, and I was more than pleased to see that about half of them were IMCA members, such as Erich Haiderer, Moritz Karl, Sergey Vasiliev, Slawomir Derecki, Pierre-Marie Pele, Thomas Dehner, Philippe Thomas, Laurent Jaworski, Marcin Cimala, Hans Koser, Mirko Graul, Martin Altmann & Stefan Ralew of Chladni's Heirs, Ali and Mohammed Hmani, Marc Jost, Peter Marmet, Jürgen Nauber, Hanno Strufe, Andreas Gren, and – last but not least - our own Mrs. President Anne Black. Forgive me if I forgot to mention the one or the other.

Even the Police showed interest in meteorites

Even the local Police showed much interest in rocks from space
Photo courtesy Peter Marmet

On all these tables there were more goodies than one can possibly mention – historic falls, and fresh desert finds, enough to fill a book with all those rocks from space and the stories behind them, and certainly enough to make most museum exhibits pale in comparison. Naturally, I can only name a few, the real highlights, and please forgive me if I start off with my own favorites, the planetary meteorites of lunar and martian origin.

First time visitor Aziz Habibi from Morocco had large pieces of the new lunar NWA 4734 (provisional name), an unusual and unpaired lunar gabbro similar to the Antarctic La Paz Icefield mare basalts. I finally ended up buying a crusted 1.033g slice of this rather unusual lunar (click the link for a high-res photo) from Martin Altmann and Stefan Ralew, a fabulous specimen with a most intriguing texture, and an abundance of shiny maskelynite dispersed throughout the unbrecciated igneous rock.

Stefan and Martin also had neat samples of a new shergottite, probably paired to NWA 2975, and I couldn't resist to buy a 2.218g slice of their NWA 4766 (provisional; click the link for a photo). Pairings of this martian rock were sold everywhere, and it seems that this fresh shergottite consists mostly of small individuals and fragments. I acquired a small 2.754g individual of NWA 4783 (provisional; click the link for a photo) from Ali Hmani who had his portion classified and named together with Philippe Thomas. Most other paired stones were bluntly sold as NWA 2975, especially by some Moroccan dealers, although this particular number pertains only to the original 75g stone of NWA 2975, an individual that has been longsince sold, and that is no longer available. Caveat emptor - beware of the piggy-backers! You can't be sure to get the real thing, and even if you do, it's not exactly what you've been paying for.

IMCA member & meteorite hunter Philippe Thomas

IMCA member & meteorite hunter Philippe Thomas
Photo courtesy Mirko Graul

It's all about doing the right thing - something that has been proved all over again by our member Philippe Thomas, more recently. He found out the true find location of lunar meteorites NWA 2727, NWA 3160, and pairings, and he thouroghly searched that place, with some success! In May 2006 he recovered a few more small fragments of this olivine-gabbro/basalt breccia in Morocco, had it classified by Dr. Jambon, and now submitted with a real name: Anoual (provisional; click the link for more information). I sincerely hope that this name will be accepted by the NomCom of the Meteoritical Society, not just because I acquired a crusted 1.061g fragment of Anoual (click the link for a photo) from Philippe at the show, but more because he did the right thing by revealing the exact find coordinates, and providing us with a detailed documentation of the find.

Wonderful fresh Bassikounou individuals

Wonderful fresh Bassikounou individuals on a Moroccan table
Photo courtesy Marcin Cimala

Another great example of a proper documentation has been delivered by IMCA member Dr. Svend Buhl, more recently, with the Bassikounou H5 chondrite which fell on October 16, 2006, in Mauritania - a meteorite that was well represented at the Ensisheim show where individuals of all shapes and sizes were offered by various dealers. Together with Matthias Baermann, Svend Buhl just published a comprehensive Descriptive Cataloge of the Recovered Masses of the Bassikounou fall (pdf-file) - a highly recommended paper that might become a model for future documentations of meteorite falls and finds. Most of the Bassikounou stones that were offered at the show can actually be found in the Cataloge - proving that a comprehensive documentation can be done, even if the respective stones are widely distributed among various dealers, collectors, and institutions.

The latest meteorite fall from La Mancha, Spain

The latest meteorite fall from La Mancha, Spain, a new eucrite,
recovered by Thomas Grau a few days prior to the show
Photo courtesy Mirko Graul

Ensisheim is not just a place of a highly historic meteorite fall - nowadays it has become a place where meteorite history is written, and presented to the general public. The fall of Bassikounou is one example, and the most recent meteorite fall from May 10, 2007, in La Mancha, Spain, is another one. German collector Thomas Grau went to Spain after hearing the stories of the prospective meteorite fall, and he actually recovered various fragments of a rather fresh achondrite that appears to be a eucrite after first tests, something that is consistent with the log x values that have been determined at the show by magnetic suspectibility expert Pierre Rochette. The fragments of the La Mancha meteorite (not yet named) could be seen at the table of Thomas Grau, and Mirko Graul, and they were a real sight to behold!

A most realistic Morasko main mass cast

Francesco Moser holding a most realistic Morasko main mass cast
Photo courtesy Francesco Moser

Another great piece of documentation could be seen at Marcin Cimala's table - a fantastic cast of the main mass of the famous Morasko IAB iron meteorite from Poland. This cast looked absolutely real, and you wouldn't have noticed that it was just a cast if you didn't check its weight. Have a look at the picture above, showing a smiling Francesco Moser holding a huge iron meteorite with one hand. Everybody admired the fantastic cast, and we had quite a lot of fun with it.

Marcin also impressed with his saw which could be used for cutting meteorites in front of the Regency Palace - a great service that was more than welcome to a lot of dealers and collectors. Among other things, Marcin did cut a few lunar meteorite slices for Dima Sadilenko, and a lot of people gathered around Marcin's saw to watch the spectacle. I actually bought one of these slices, a 0.78g sample of a yet unpublished lunar meteorite from Oman, and I was glad that I got a unique photo with it serving as an invaluable piece of documentation.

Marcin Cimala cutting a lunar meteorite

Marcin Cimala cutting a lunar meteorite from Dhofar, Oman
Photo courtesy Francesco Moser

Besides all the old and new meteorites, sales and trades, lectures and documentations, the Ensisheim show is always a great place to socialize with fellow collectors, to talk about our favorite subject, and - last but not least - to have a lot of fun as can be seen in the picture below! I thoroughly enjoyed this years show, and I’m looking forward to see you all next year in Ensisheim.

Saturday night party

Hanno Strufe, Devin Schrader, Christian Anger, Mohamed Sbai,
Greg Hupe, Robert Ward, Mike Farmer, and Moritz Karl
having fun at the Saturday night party
Photo courtesy Francesco Moser

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