The Meteorite Men Meets the Gemport Team

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For thousands of years meteorites have slammed into the earth's surface, each one carrying an invaluable record of the very beginnings of the solar system. But finding meteorites -- some buried over centuries by thick layers of dirt and sediment -- is no easy task. Modern day treasure hunters Steve Arnold & Geoff Notkin have travelled the world for years to search for the remnants of these ancient meteorites. The Meteorite Men series on the Science Channel takes viewers on a search for alien treasures & reveal these lost treasures of the universe. For its pilot series in 2008, the Whitecourt Crater, in Whitecourt, Alberta, was the only location outside of the US. Since then, the series has taken off and the Meteorite Men have hunted for meteorites around the world. And, in August 2011 it took them back to the Whitecourt Crater where they met avid meteorite hunters Luc and Joan Guillemette.

Partners Geoffrey Notkin, science writer and owner of Aerolite Meteorites, and world-famous meteorite-hunter Steve Arnold search for alien treasures, revealing these lost pieces of our universe for the first time. In this series, Notkin and Arnold investigate sites at the Brenham strewnfield in Kiowa County, Kansas, in addition to a top secret location where they have been working for the past couple of years. With three 4WD trucks, two ATVs, two giant metal detectors and enough other assorted hunting equipment to keep a small army occupied, they covered hundreds of acres of ground -- plowed fields, forests, rolling hillsides, abandoned farms, on unmarked dirt roads and in howling Kansas winds.

Geoff Notkin is a professional meteorite hunter, science writer and photographer. He has travelled to more than 40 countries and some of the world's most remote locations including Chile's Atacama Desert, Iceland, England, Mexico and the Middle East in search of elusive and valuable space rocks. He has authored more than 60 published articles on meteoritics, paleontology, adventure travel, history and the arts and is currently at work on a memoir about his life as a meteorite hunter.

Steve Arnold is a professional meteorite hunter and entrepreneur. Since 1992 Arnold has made a career of selling, trading and brokering meteorites, and worked with many prominent museum curators, scientists and private collectors to help them enhance meteorite collections. Over the years his dedication to making new discoveries has helped further the study of meteoritics.

While exploring a wheat field in Kiowa County, Kansas, Arnold unearthed a 644kg Brenham meteorite that is the largest oriented pallasite ever found. Although most of his meteorite hunting and recovery expeditions have taken place within the United States, his passion for adventure has taken him to Oman, Chile, London, Paris, Argentina and Peru.

For their first series shot in 2009, Geoff and Steve explored the historically protected Whitecourt Crater in Whitecourt, Alberta. In 2011 they returned to Whitecourt to shoot the third episode of their third series, at the request of Dr Christopher Herd from the University of Alberta. He had only learned about the crater in 2007 from residence of the area.   

 

What local hunters in Whitecourt thought for years was a sinkhole is actually the crater left behind by a meteor that fell to earth 1,000 years ago and is now attracting international attention from researchers.

Chris Herd, a professor with the University of Alberta's department of earth and atmospheric sciences who is leading the research on the meteor crater, said he couldn't believe his ears when someone from the area told him about the crater last year.

"We still joke about how skeptical I was on the phone, because we literally get hundreds of these calls every year," Herd said in an interview at the crater site last Monday. "This is very exciting."

The crater is 36 metres wide and six metres deep, which is small as far as most craters go, Herd said. At an estimated 1,000 years old, it is also one of the youngest craters in the world. The second-youngest crater in Canada, located in Quebec, is 1.2 million years old.

Herd said the meteor, which was made primarily of iron, was probably formed very early in the life of the solar system by the same process that formed the earth's core. Herd thinks the meteor came from the asteroid belt and measured one metre across. However, researchers have so far found 74 different pieces of the original meteor - which is called a meteorite once it hits the ground - scattered around the crater, some up to 70 metres away.

"The big mystery is the relationship between the meteorites and the event," Herd said.

Herd explained that most meteors travel so fast, they are completely vaporized when they hit the earth. In some cases the pressure of earth's atmosphere slows a meteor down enough to leave a portion of it relatively intact when it lands.

But something happened to the Whitecourt meteor on its way to earth, Herd said. The meteorites found around the crater have sharp edges, which tell researchers a story about what might have happened to the meteor before it hit the ground.

"The rock was ripped apart on impact or at a low altitude," Herd said. "Otherwise the atmospheric pressure would have rounded (the edges of the meteorites)."

The site is one of only 12 of its kind in the world and has been very well preserved, Herd said.

"It's a phenomenal opportunity for the research that I do," he said.

from Signs of the Times, November 5, 2009

Dr. Herd asked the Meteorite Men to return to Whitecourt in order to help preserve the site as reported by Ann Harvey in the Whitecourt Star in August, 2011: "Meteorite Men arrive to help scientists".

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 Who is who in this photo?
Whitecourt Crater, August 18 - 22, 2011
 Who is on the left?, Joan and Luc Guillemette
Whitecourt Crater, August 18 - 22, 2011

When the Meteorite Men returned to shoot the Whitecourt Crater for their third series, Luc and Joan Guillemette were only to happy to join them on their meteorite hunt. Together, Luc and Joan collected 6 1/5 kilos of meteorite fragments for the University of Alberta's collection while the Meteorite Men collected less than half this amount.    

 

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