Meteorite fragments: Could they be the next gold rush for Siberians?
Published Sunday, February 17, 2013 1:48PM EST
Meteorite hunters are expected to descend on the site of a meteor explosion that sent fragments of the rock flying over Russia’s Ural Mountains.
In the wake of Friday’s blast, a 20-foot-wide hole was left in Chebarkul Lake, located on the slopes of the southern Urals in Siberia.
Divers scoured the frigid waters this weekend but failed to find any large fragments of the meteor, according to Russian officials.
But that hasn’t stopped advertisements for pieces of the space rock from popping up online.
According to the Moscow Times, mere hours after the meteor blast several websites were already selling fragments of stone.
A two-centimetre fragment was going for 500 ruble, or approximately $16.60, on the online store Aito.ru, though there was little to suggest that the meteorite was authentic.
Enthusiasts also took to the Internet in hopes of securing a rare fragment. According to the Daily Mail, one Russian buyer was offering more than $16,000 for a single rock.
Meteorites -- portions of the meteor that survives the journey through the earth’s atmosphere -- are typically sold by weight.
According to geology.com prices can range greatly. Unclassified stones are readily available for $0.50/gram while more rare fragments can cost $50/gram. Rare examples of lunar and Martian meteorites may even sell for more than $1,000/gram.
NASA scientists say the 7,000-ton chunk of space rock hurtled out of the sky at 64,000 km/h, exploding over the Ural Mountains and spraying debris throughout the crash site.
NASA estimates that when the meteor entered the atmosphere over Alaska, it weighed 10,000 tons, was at approximately 55 feet in diameter and exploded with the force of 500 kilotons of energy. The agency says a size that strikes the Earth about once every hundred years.
The shock wave injured about 1,200 of people about 90 kilometres away in the industrial city of Chelyabinsk -- mostly from broken glass.
Authorities in a Russia said Sunday that cleanup efforts are well underway after the meteor's shock wave shattered an estimated 200,000 square metres of windows.
The Chelyabinsk city administration said in a statement that nearly 60 per cent of the city's broken windows had already been replaced.
The damage is estimated at $33 million and the windows are expected to be replaced within a week.
With files from The Associated Press