Iron, Fine octahedrite (IVA), found 1906

My expeditions to the area, 2006/and two trips in 2007

The Midnight-Sun in the Arctic. I took this photo at ~1 am on July 18, 2007

              The Muonionalusta iron meteorite was found in 1906 in the village of Kikiojarvi in far northern Sweden. People digging a basement for a home found a lump of iron and sent it for assay to learn that it was a meteorite. After that, many other pieces were found by locals during road building and logging activities. Muonionalusta is a very nice iron meteorite, Fine octahedrite with a beautiful Widmanstatten pattern. The meteorite is very odd in the distribution as far as where found/depth under the ground and size sorting. This is because it fell more than 800,00 years ago and was carried into the area by the glaciers. The pieces are all rounded and formed by crushing ice and grinding in the rocks carried by the glaciers, and they are mixed into the till. Sometimes we found one kilogram meteorites underneath massive one-hundred kilogram rocks. This was due to the fact that the meteorites were simply pushed into the locations they are today by the ice. The glaciations period that moved the meteorites has been dated at ~800,000 years ago!

A few years ago, in 1998 or 99 a team of Swedish meteorite hunters returned to the area to try and relocate the meteorite strewnfield as nothing had been reported found in decades. When they started hunting, they found a meteorite in a few hours! Keeping the find secret, they found many more pieces that summer. The next winter, I was offered a slice of one of the new  masses, at a very high price, which I paid on the spot. A rare European iron was an exciting acquisition. Later on we heard they were hunting and finding many pieces, but I never had the time to go to the Arctic to hunt meteorites. A few years later, in 2006 I finally planned a major expedition to the strewnfield to try my luck at meteorite hunting in the dense forests and swamps of Scandinavia.

Robert Ward and I planned the trip for July and August of 06, during the summer when there is 24 hour sunlight, no darkness and trillions of mosquitoes! The Moss meteorite fall in Norway diverted us for 10 days, but we just made a detour to Norway on the way to Sweden. On that first trip, I hunted for 3 days with no finds, and was panicking as I so wanted to find a large iron meteorite. Finally, on August 4th, 2006, my birthday in fact, I found my first Muonionalusta meteorite in a logging area, a 47 kilogram specimen. Afterwards we began to find a few other pieces, but we did not know that we were hunting in an area that had been heavily searched by others, there was little left to find in that clean area. We figured out a few days later that to find more pieces, one had to hit new areas, in tougher, swampier terrain. Once you got away from the few roads, it was very difficult to walk through the dense forests, lakes, rivers, and swamps, but the meteorite were there waiting to be found.

The Muonionalusta meteorites are the largest I have ever found, with some weighing more than 50 kilograms. I have found so many that I lost count but have more than 300 kilograms left in storage. Sweden is a great place, wonderful people, amazing landscape that for me being from the desert, is like a dream with all the trees and water. I enjoyed weeks of hunting there, eating blueberries every day, paying the locals for massive trout to cook at night. We saw giant bears, reindeer, and all sorts of small animals almost every day, and of course, during the summer, we nearly went crazy fighting off the endless clouds of mosquitoes and gnats that plague the arctic in those sunny days and sunny nights! Even sleeping is hard without darkness. I still have meteorite-hunting gear in storage in Sweden. One of these summers I will return to Sweden to pull a few more meteorites out of the forest.

This was my second Muonionalusta meteorite, found in August 2006 and weighing 26 kilograms. I still have this nice piece.


All of Scandinavia is covered with Viking sites, and we found a Viking tomb site near a lake. There are five separate graves, all marked with large rock piles.


A photo of me digging a very nice piece of Mounionalusta meteorite. I consider this one to be the best one I have found overall and it is my collection. This specimen weighs 36 kilograms and was buried only a few cm deep. I found it in about 30 minutes of hunting while training some friends on the machinery.


On the other end of the scale we sometimes found very large pieces like this 210 kilogram monster! This piece was over two meters deep, very difficult to excavate and requiring a tractor to lift out of the hole.


After hunting a few hours, we often took naps in the sunshine to ward off the bugs which preferred the shade.


Robert with his newly recovered 210 kilo meteorite.


A selection of some of the pieces I found in August in 2007. The center piece is the 37 kilo piece in my collection.


This photo shows an amazing thing, three of us all digging meteorites at the same time, what is more, there were four of us digging meteorites at once, but one took the photo. Robert Ward, on the left, dug a ~30 kilo meteorite, Myself in the center dug a ~400 gram meteorite, and Greg Hupe on the right dug a ~600 gram meteorite.  This was the only time that my group ever dug meteorites in one place at the same time, often you could go a day or more without finding a piece.


Here is a photo showing my group's meteorite haul (four people). We took out over 900 kilograms of meteorites in the end.


This funny picture is of Greg Hupe trying to remove a rock from a deep hole. the meteorite was over 100 kilograms but it was underneath a large rock. This was typical of the kind of excavations needed to remove the meteorites.


This is a map from our metal-detecting permits we were required to get from the Swedish government in order to hunt meteorites. I marked my own finds on the map with blue dots. I found more pieces than are on this map, but it represents nearly a month of daily hunting and more than 150 miles of walking.

The "locals" were mostly comprised of herds of reindeer, very common to the area, quite docile, not letting you get too close, but really mostly ignoring us. We saw hundreds of them.