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SA Adventure 1 of 3   contributed by jnmczurich, IMCA 2391   MetBul Link

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Copyright (c) jnmczurich. Use allowed - include photographer's name: jnmczurich.
  Iron, IIAB

TKW 23 MT. Observed fall 12 February 1947, Primorskiy kray, Russia


Jürgen/jnmczurich writes:
Sikhote-Alin Adventure, May 1995, Part 1 of 3

I bought my first Sikhote-Alin collection sample, an explosion fragment (shrapnel) of some 270 g, from an US dealer in about 1987 or 1988, and a smooth individual sample from another source at about the same time. I was amazed to see that there were two fundamentally different types of finds from the Sikhote-Alin meteorite fall. Torn, razor-sharp-edged explosion fragments and, on the other hand, smaller individuals with a gray-bluish fusion crust, flow lines and regmagypts. The thought quickly developed in my head that I wanted to travel there and search for it.

Looking back to the mid-nineties: In autumn 1994 I was invited by my two Russian colleagues Petrovich and Sergei to take part in a short Sikhote-Alin tour in May 1995 due to our good contacts. A commercial search order of >250 kg explosion fragments (shrapnel) for a major international US customer had to be fulfilled, as I remember. The invitation and the tour itself were “semi-official”, which means without official approval, but probably with the knowledge of the authorities that search activities are again taking place in the Sikhote-Alin area after years of silence. Fortunately, I had to worry about almost nothing. Everything, from scheduling, flights booking, accommodation, etc., was organized by my two colleagues. The meeting point was in St. Petersburg / RUS. There my luggage was "optimized" by my tour colleagues, which means that besides my protective clothing, a sleeping bag, my analog camera and some personal items such as some clothes and underwear to change, a Swiss Army knife and my toothbrush, there was hardly anything left. I only understood this later, because we had to lug all our luggage to reach the Sikhote-Alin strewnfield for a few km through a swamp area with backpacks and carrier bags that cannot be traversed by vehicles. Aeroflot Flight to Vladivostok, arrival on May 8, 1995. Onward travel a day later, exactly 50 years after the End of the Second World War (WWII). All of Vladivostok was crowded with marines. The number and size of the Russian Navy gathered in the port of Vladivostok was gigantic (Pic 01)! Unfortunately, it had rained very heavily on the day and we had great time pressure, as we still had to get food somewhere and almost all shops were closed due to the naval parade (Pic 02). I was instructed to be as quiet as possible because foreigners in Vladivostok and the region usually do not have a residence and travel permit, even though the Soviet Union opened its borders a few years ago.

In 1995 Vladivostok and the area north of it were all still military restricted areas. Overnight trip by train to Dalnerechensk (Pic 03). Once there, we had to drive approximately 85 km in a military truck to the village, which today is named after the meteorite fall of Sikhote-Alin: Meteoritnyy (Pic 04). The few people living there work in the timber business (Pic 05). We were greeted happily by a forest keeper called Sasha, well known to my two colleagues, who was given different kinds of tools and household goods as a gift (or on order?).

On the same day, this kind forest keeper took us with a 4WD Jeep on a roughly 15 km long rocky and difficult-to-drive route deep into the forest until fallen trees and rocks made it impossible to continue driving. All luggage was unloaded (Pic 06). We put on protective clothing and rubber shoes (protection from mosquitoes, ticks and snakes), and then we traveled with our metal detectors, tent, sleeping bags, food, and a few other things about four km over rocks and through the swamp to the camp area (Pic 07, 08).

May 10, 1995, we arrived at the campsite was west of a chain of hills on the edge of the marsh (Pic 09). The Sikhote-Alin crater field lay higher up on the chain of hills, which was delimited from below by a swamp on three sides (Pic 10, 11, 12, 13, 14). Two rivers flowed in the same direction on both sides of the chain of hills (Pic 15). Crossing the two rivers into the swamp was dangerous and unnecessary. This defined our search field for meteorites.

After dinner (Pic 16, 17) I made my first Sikhote-Alin find - an approximately 15 g fragment - with the metal detector, shortly before sunset (Pic 18). Beep beep beeeeep! It was the first meteorite I had ever tracked down with a metal detector. It was a really great moment that I have not forgotten (Pic 19)!

Since the fall occurred on the deep-frozen ground in winter time in February 1947, small pieces (individuals and the explosion fragments torn after the impact of the larger masses on the hard-frozen ground) mostly fell through the white blanket of snow onto the frozen ground and thereby only insignificantly penetrated the ground. The vegetation has therefore only grown a few cm over the meteorite pieces and working with the metal detector was, therefore, relatively easy.
Picture 01 – Russian Navy parade on May 09, 1995, exactly 50 years after the end of WWII
Picture 02 – Buying food in Vladivostok
Picture 03 – Map with train route from Vladivostok to Dalnerechensk
Picture 04 – Map with car route from Dalnerechensk to Meteoritnyy
Picture 05 – Main Street through Meteoritnyy
Picture 06 – Unload luggage, put on protective clothing
Picture 07 – Welcome in Sikhote-Alin strewnfield
Picture 08 – Campsite
Picture 09 – Map sketch (V.F.Buchwald, Vol 3, page 1124). The orange arrow points to the approximate location of our campsite
Picture 10 – Swamp
Picture 11 – Path through the swamp
Picture 12 – One of many Amur snakes
Picture 13 – Water-filled impact crater near campsite and the swamp
Picture 14 – Water-filled impact crater near campsite and the swamp
Picture 15 – Small River near the campsite
Picture 16 – Our cooking pot
Picture 17 – Delicious camp fire food 😀
Picture 18 – On the way to the first Sikhote-Alin find
Picture 19 – And here is it 😀

To be continued with MPOD "Sikhote-Alin adventure in May 1995" part 2, following in a few days…
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Photo 19

Found at the arrow (green or red) on the map below


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Michael Overacker

This Month

Michael Mulgrew
 5/11/2020 11:10:59 AM
Wonderful story, can't wait for part 2!
Rob Wesel
 5/10/2020 9:47:56 PM
What a fun read, thank you for taking the time to write it Juergen.
Tracy Latimer
 5/10/2020 3:23:32 PM
Exceptional story and satisfying to my travel bug, at a time when there ain't much traveling going on. Thanks!
Ben Fisler
 5/10/2020 1:57:40 PM
Great photos and story. Thanks! Can*t wait for part 2, and part 3.
Juergen / jnmczurich
 5/10/2020 1:38:20 PM
Many thanks for the refreshing comments. @ Alex: no, the large and unique piece of Sikhote-Alin was found in 1994 and somehow found its way into my collection after my tour. :-) Let's wait for part 2 and part 3 together.
Alex Seidel
 5/10/2020 8:33:29 AM
By the way: look at the MPOD of 7/18/2015, where Juergen shows his gorgeous 25.35 kg individual of Sikhote-Alin, which he added to his collection in the same year that he took part in the expedition, which we can read about here (1995). I had the pleasure to see this huge marvellous piece at his home quite a couple of years ago. Did it originate from the 1995 expedition, Juergen, or was it found earlier?
Andi Koppelt
 5/10/2020 5:46:23 AM
Marvelous dinner creation: Crunchy scale cubes on Siberian wild rice with fine tomatoe tatar on top.
Alex Seidel
 5/10/2020 5:11:59 AM
Addition to my earlier comment: I wonder how this site may look like nowadays, and whether the authorities will allow further (private) expeditions to the place, and last but not least whether there still might be found some specimens from the famous fall. May be there will be some info on this in one of the other upcoming parts of Juergen*s great story.. [Disclaimer: no, I*m not planning to go there, but just try to imagine the conditions at that place today.. :-)]
Graham Ensor
 5/10/2020 4:51:53 AM
Many thanks for sharying. Surely an adventure we would all have liked. Not so many will ever manage that.
 5/10/2020 3:42:03 AM
Yesterday: 75 years after the end of WWII. Times they're a'changin'. No parade. - Great report, Juergen, great adventure and pretty hard too, I guess. I'm sure the small one, your first find, is staying still in your home. - Looking forward with pleasure to part II.
Benjamin P. Sun
 5/10/2020 3:20:28 AM
Great story! Thanks for sharing!
Alex Seidel
 5/10/2020 3:13:19 AM
I concur: great reading, good job, well done, Juergen! Nice to share these impressions of an exciting journey to a famous meteorite site, distant both in space and time. Looking forward to read the full story in the course of the coming week.. .
Andi Koppelt
 5/10/2020 1:37:08 AM
Whow! Cool story and big adventure of meteoritic history. Thanks, Juergen, for these deep impressions. Can*t wait to read the next parts...

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