A potentially ultra rare meteorite found in Covington County

Only 1,821 meteorites have been verified in the United States since 1807!

A potentially ultra rare meteorite found in Covington County
A viewer photo of a potential meteorite in Covington County. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

COVINGTON COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Meteorites have been around forever, but they only started getting truly documented and verified in the early 1800s. Let us just say their discovery is very, very rare.

That’s why it’s so significant that two WSFA 12 News viewers may have found one of these meteorites right here in Covington County! It isn’t confirmed or verified by an expert yet, but they tell WSFA 12 News that they have conducted a number of the tests on the rock in an attempt to get closer to confirming it as a meteorite.

They tell us that so far, all of the tests have passed on the so-called “Meteorite Check-List” -- a tool available courtesy of Debora Rios and the Museu Nacional/UFRJ in Brazil.

Getting a meteorite verified is more than just analyzing it at home using a simple check-list and flowchart. It is a much lengthier and more involved process than you may think!

To get a meteorite verified, you must send it in so a professional can analyze, verify and authenticate the composition of the rock. Even if you get to this step, it’s not a guarantee that what you have is a meteorite. If you do end up with a meteorite on your hands, there are different compositions it can have that will go a long way in determining the rarity and value.

So how rare, exactly, are these meteorites?

Meteorite information in the United States.
Meteorite information in the United States. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Well, between 1807 and April of 2019 a total of 1,821 meteorites were verified in the United States. That’s according to data from the Meteoritical Society.

That’s good for 8-9 meteorites being found and verified in the U.S. each year.

That’s it.

It’s even more uncommon to stumble upon one of these exceptionally rare space rocks here in the Southeast. Alabama has only had 18 meteorites verified. Georgia and Tennessee have documented 26 and 25, respectively.

Total number of meteorites found in the Lower 48 through April of 2019.
Total number of meteorites found in the Lower 48 through April of 2019. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Other surrounding states like Mississippi (4), Florida (6), Louisiana (3), Arkansas (15), and South Carolina (6) have had less meteorite findings than Alabama. But why are numbers so low in the Southeastern part of the country?

It has to do with the terrain -- and the luck of the draw.

Meteorites are randomly distributed across the planet and fall from space with absolutely no pattern. But depending on where they fall, they can be much easier to discover. Areas like deserts, plains, flat land, and locations without much greenery are the best for stumbling upon a meteorite.

That’s why states like Texas, New Mexico and California have significantly more meteorite discoveries than states east of the Mississippi River!

One other bit of information you may be curious about is where exactly meteorites come from. And you probably aren’t alone in that. Meteorites are fragments of larger rocks like asteroids, meteoroids or comets that survive all the way to Earth’s surface. An object from space cannot be labeled as a meteorite until it actually lands on the ground here on Earth!

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.