Stones from Mohave County, Arizona: Multiple falls in the “Franconia strewn field”


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One of the most productive and well-sampled dense collection areas for meteorites on Earth is the “Franconia strewn field” in Mohave County, Arizona, which since 2002 has yielded hundreds of meteorites in an ellipsoidal area approximately 5 × 16 km across. Based on petrographic, mineral-chemical, and terrestrial age data, we conclude that among 14 meteorites examined, there are at least 6 and possibly 8 distinct meteorites represented, which fell over a period of approximately 0–20 kyr ago. These include equilibrated H-chondrites such as Franconia (H5) and Buck Mountains (BM) 001 (H6); H3–6 breccias such as Buck Mountains Wash and BM 004; and L6 chondrites such as BM 002 and BM 003 (which may be paired), Palo Verde Mine, and BM 005. To confidently pair such meteorites often requires thorough petrographic examination, mineral-chemical analyses, and terrestrial ages. We estimate that 50 ± 10% of the larger specimens in this area are paired, yielding a relatively high value of approximately 2.3–2.9 distinct meteorites km−2. The meteorite flux estimated for Franconia area is higher than the flux inferred from contemporary fireball data for larger masses. We suggest that one large H3–6 meteoroid fell in the area, most likely that of Buck Mountains Wash approximately 4 kyr ago, which produced an elliptical strewn field with masses generally increasing toward one end, and which raised the meteorite productivity in the recovery area.