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

Roll Overs:     #1   #2   #3   #4   #5   #6   #7   #8   #9   #10   #11   #12    

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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" in May 1995", Part 3 The removal of the Sikhote-Alin finds was quite difficult due to the large weight of our finds, because we had to walk several times the approximately 4 km route through swampy and rocky areas to the meeting point, where the forest keeper was waiting with his large car. Each of us with backpacks weighing up to 20 kg or with load carriers - one man in front, one man in the back – to walk with around 30 kg of iron pieces. The transport of all finds to the meeting point took more than one day.

After picking-up by Sasha we had to manufacture transport boxes out of wooden boards, because there were no ready-made transport boxes available (Pic 1, 2). Each filled box weighed between 40 and 45 kg. Seven boxes in total (Pic 3). During the few days after the Sikhote-Alin strewnfield exploration, we were invited to stay in Sasha's house in Meteoritnyy (Pic 4, 5). We were kindly allowed to use his simple but excellent working russian sauna house (no picture, sorry). This was perfect after the exhausting time we had in the Sikhote-Alin forest. We then traveled the same way back to St. Petersburg by truck, train and plane (Pic 6). The seven boxes found their way on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Dalnerechensk to St. Petersburg in just under four weeks. My hand luggage was full of small sharp iron fragments that I wanted to have with me. Today it would be impossible to carry this in hand luggage in this way because of the airline safety regulations. How the world has changed ...

After the seven boxes arrived in St. Petersburg and later in Prague, I picked around 10 kg of my own-find fragments including my three individuals plus a razor-sharp 11.47 kg explosion fragment (Pic 7), found by my tour colleagues, and kept them for myself. I was then able to buy the separated material from the entire find for a very fair price. Today I still have many smaller fragments of my own finds and two of the three found individuals (plus the huge explosion fragment, which is in permanent display of ETH Zurich (Pic 8)) from our tour in my collection and to see in my collection showcases at home (Pic 9, 10). All pieces are natural as far as possible and were only cleaned under running water with ambient temperature with washing soap and with a soft hand washing brush with plastic bristles. When I see the strongly wire-brushed or black boiled Sikhote-Alin meteorites at mineral shows today, my stomach turns with such a rough treatment! Wire brushes destroy the pieces! Maybe not from the shape, but from the appearance. Browning, cooking in hot oil, is also a hardly acceptable change in material appearance. Long time ago, I also used to brush Sikhote-Alin samples temporarily with wire brushes, and even washed occasional, dirt-encrusted pieces with dilute acid. That was the understanding of cleaning at the time in the nineties, but it is no longer acceptable to me today.

In etched condition, all Sikhote-Alin fragments show a totally deformed Widmanstätten pattern. Here is a pretty interesting 227g sample to see (Pic 10). The structural detail image with a bent Schreibersite inclusion is approximately 5.5 x 8 mm (Pic 11).

However, I can say that the whole tour would have been impossible for me without the support and the language skills of my two Russian friends and without their local contacts. Anyone who would try to find a meteorite there today without knowing the situation on site will not be able to reach the destination without the support of the local people for logistical reasons alone. A good, no, a very good physical condition is also essential for a Sikhote-Alin tour, which is absolutely not comparable with "easy" desert tours. At that time I was physically well trained and prepared for the exertions, but unfortunately unfortunately unfortunately far too little for what I was allowed to experience there as an adventure (Pic 12 plus many not shown pictures). Seeing the 48-year-old impact craters, knowing how many and how big meteorites hit it, was really impressive for me. At times during the tour I forgot the commercial order that we had to fulfill, because the joy was great about every find, no matter whether it was small or large. My total find amount was smaller than that of my two tour partners who were more experienced in meteorite searching. My "mistake" was that I had dug a find for almost every signal. My two colleagues, on the other hand, only dug when the signal was strong. But as a team we worked together perfectly.

The search for Sikhote-Alin explosion fragments was connected with the great physical exertion due to the remote location and the transport problems in the area, but it also gave me/us great pleasure and satisfaction. However, from today's point of view that the actual and important exploration of the strewnfield has unfortunately failed to materialize. At that time there was simply no time for it. Without GPS (GPS was not yet in private use in 1995) it was also not possible to record the coordinates of the "better" of my or our finds exactly. Unfortunately, even after seven or eight days in the forest, it seemed unimportant to me to take some rubble rocks from the largest impact craters. Too bad, for this missed opportunity 48 1/4 years after the fall. But my Sikhote-Alin experience was 25 years ago and the discussion was different. The important, accompanying data collection of today was not really important at that time for the strewnfield meteorite hunters. It's been now 73 ¼ years since the tremendous fall of Sikhote-Alin meteorites happened. It was found that in 1995 most of the explosion fragments were brown all around and the individuals had already started with brown, destructive rust. Pieces found near to the swamp or next to water-filled impact craters were all heavily to extremely corroded. The time of good Sikhote-Alin finds runs out faster and faster with increasing time axis. Unfortunately, that's it. I am happy to have this experience done. For me, Sikhote-Alin is and remains one of the most important meteorites ever.

The information given here in the three MPOD's is based on my two photo albums with comments and my todays thoughts on the Sikhote-Alin experience 25 years ago. It could be different today, I don't know? Would be nice to get an update from a recent strewnfield exploration, if there are meteorite hunters (“pirates”) or other people (scientists?) still searching for meteorites. You are the next, not me again… I will focus my future plans on other projects.
Picture 1 – Manufacturing the wooden transport boxes
Picture 2 – Six of seven boxes, full of Sikhote-Alin fragments
Picture 3 – Mission accomplished
Picture 4 – Sacha’s house in Meteoritnyy
Picture 5 – Another view of the Main Street in Meteoritnyy
Picture 6 – Military truck to Dalnerechensk
Picture 7 – It is me with the 11.47 kg fragment
Picture 8 – 11.47 kg fragment in display in ETH Zurich
Picture 9 – Small Sikhote-Alin fragments in display at home
Picture 10 – Fragment with etched face and deformed pattern
Picture 11 – Close-up view to the etched section, about 5.5 x 8 mm
Picture 12 – Last picture – another of many Amur snakes

My special thanks to Petrovich and Sergej, good friends (!), and also to Paul, who is doing always a great job with his daily MPOD.
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Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

Photo 8

Photo 9

Photo 10

Photo 11

Photo 12

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


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Steve Brittenham

This Month

 5/24/2020 1:25:29 PM
Excelente, extraordinario, eso es vivir una gran aventura y documentar un lugar tan lejano e inh*spito. Siento decirlo pero tengo una gran envidia y una gran alegr*a a la vez por ver como has realizado un verdadero sue*o para los amantes de los meteoritos. Bravo Juergen !!!!
Graham Ensor
 5/18/2020 4:41:36 AM
I think the best set of MPOTD ever. Wonderful to follow your adventure and see the specimens. Many thanks for sharing this experience.
Michael Doran
 5/17/2020 6:53:38 PM
A great adventure, well told! I'm sure whenever you gaze at that awesome Sikhote-Alin display (photo #9) all those memories come back. Thanks for sharing this with us other met heads.
John Divelbiss
 5/17/2020 11:22:28 AM
Juergen...thank you, and pic #7 alone gives you and your friends and love ones a "visual memory" of a special time for you. Hard to beat that meteorite pic!!
Jim Strope
 5/17/2020 11:08:52 AM
Great story. Thank you for taking time to document your experience and share it with us.
Alex Seidel
 5/17/2020 3:35:35 AM
Grande finale of a fine trilogy, nice reading, big throw! Thanks again, Juergen, for entertaining us with your adventure of the Sikhote Alin trip, thanks Paul for posting it!
Andi Koppelt
 5/17/2020 1:30:57 AM
Well done! Thank you, Juergen, a meteorite hunter*s dream.

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