Essay

Space Rock or Not? Rocks That Look Like Meteorites

Although they can be hard to discover, meteorites are commonplace on Earth. Many are lost forever as they plunge into the ocean’s depths. However, some fall to the ground and become part of the surrounding rocks. You could question if a strange-looking stone or rock you’ve ever found is an extraterrestrial object. Earth and space rocks can have similar appearances. Take a look at these rocks that resemble meteorites and learn how to recognise space rocks.

How to Tell if a Rock is a Meteorite

Rock or metal particles known as meteorites are space rocks that fall back towards Earth. There are a few techniques to assist identify these uncommon things from common pebbles and stones, albeit it can be challenging to do so. Because meteorites are composed of dense minerals, they are heavier than rocks that are found on Earth. The majority of space pebbles have metallic iron content and react well to magnets. In addition, they have pits known as regmaglypts that mimic fingerprints and asymmetrical forms. Lastly, as meteorites travel through Earth’s atmosphere, they typically develop a thin crust.

Rocks That Look Like Meteorites Slag

The most frequent rock to be misidentified as a meteorite is slag. It is a byproduct of mining metals from ore and is frequently used in railroads, road building, and landscaping projects. When people come across slag, they often mistake it for space rocks because it is dense, usually black, and magnetic. But unlike a meteorite, this rock is smooth and frequently contains vesicles.

Magnetite

Iron ore and ferrimagnetic, or drawn to magnets and capable of becoming a magnet itself, is the mineral known as magnetite. Due to its shiny black colour and relative abundance, magnetite is frequently confused with space rock. One simple method to tell the two apart is to conduct a quick scratch test. If the rock scratches off a grey or black streak on a ceramic tile, you are probably working with magnetite.

Hematite

A heavy oxide material with a high iron concentration is called hematite. They can be any colour, ranging from dark red and brown to metallic, black, and grey. This material is usually found in the form of a tiny nodule that can occasionally, but not always, adhere to magnets when meteorite hunting. It’s obvious that the hematite filing powder is not meteorite because of its rouge red pigment.

Basalt

The solid, finely grained volcanic rock is called basalt. Although basalt has a wide range of shades, its significant concentration of dark-colored minerals gives it a dark grey or black appearance. Similar to space rocks, basalt is likewise porous and can have pits in it. Actually, basalt is produced by asteroids and other planets. A chemical or mineralogical test is the sole method to distinguish between a meteorite and basalt if the stone you are looking at doesn’t have a fusion crust.

Black Tourmaline

Scherl, sometimes known as tourmaline, is a magnetic crystal with a high iron content. It is either brown or black in colour with a glossy sheen. Tourmaline is characterised by its three-sided prisms and strong vertical striations. Although it is found all over the world, black tourmaline is quite uncommon. The majority of the time, Brazil mines volcanic rocks for it.

Anthracite

Anthracite is a hard black coal with a submetallic lustre and pure carbon content. This compact coal has a chalky, shiny, dark grey, almost black colour and could have pores. It is also quite prevalent in the US, has a blue, smokeless flame when burned, and is challenging to ignite. Even though it weighs more than other types of coal, anthracite is nevertheless comparatively light and soft.

Jet

This low grade of coal is lignite, a sedimentary rock that is soft and dark. A mineraloid made of wood that changes under pressure is called jet. It may have a metallic sheen and be either dark brown or black. Additionally, pieces may come off easily and, when rubbed, release an electrical charge. Anthracite and jet can also be confused.

Ferberite

At the very end of a mineral series, ferberite is a black mineral that is an iron endmember. This mineral has a granular appearance, yet it frequently has a glossy appearance and lengthy prismatic crystals within. Granite rock and hydrothermal deposits are good sources of ferberite.

Highlights of the 10 Rocks That Look Like Meteorites

Rocks That Look Like Meteorites Distinct Characteristics
Slag Glassy, vesicular
Magnetite Leaves a gray or black streak when scratched against ceramic
Hematite Rouge red pigment
Basalt It does not contain a fusion crust
Black Tourmaline Glossy, vertical striations
Anthracite Chalky, glossy, soft, lightweight
Jet Soft, dark brown, breaks off easily
Ferberite Shiny, elongated prismatic crystals