MORP: Keeping track of meteorites

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Abstract

If one considers the level of significance frequently granted to observations of small portions of an individual meteorite sample, the question of sampling error arises. A project to answer this question has been underway in Canada for 9 years (1974–1983). The Meteorite Observation and Recovery Project, or, more simply MORP, is an observational network designed to evaluate the frequency of meteorite falls on the surface of the earth [see I. Halliday, A.T. Blackwell, and A.A. Griffin, J.R. Astron. Soc. Can., 72, 15, 1978]. Other major networks for observation have been operative in the United States and Central Europe. Halliday, Blackwell, and Griffin reported recently on MORP results: “…the total mass deposited on the ground is 142 kg year1 −l in 106 km2 …it is obvious that a very small portion of the potential harvest is ever located” [Science, 223, 1405–1407, 1984]. The actual numbers from the analysis are staggering. The normal recovery rate of meteorites per year in the world is no more than one or two dozen (excluding “fossil” meteorites recovered from the Antarctic glacial ice). The number of meteorite falls over the entire earth's surface is about 25,000 per year, according to the MORP analysis.

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