While we were in Argentina, there were many people out hunting for meteorites, locals, Uruguayans, and ourselves. We had permission to hunt on two large properties, but in the end, there were too many people, and the landowners congratulated us on our finds, revoked permission to be on their land, and told everyone to leave. These are simple ranchers, who were weary of the last two weeks of constant flow of police, astronomers, meteorite hunters, and news crews and military helicopters. I spoke with them and they just wanted to get back to their quiet routine. It seems that most of the meteorite fall will be lost.

The Berduc meteorite hunt was a blast, a wonderful place with great and very cheap wine, nice people, and beautiful meteorites found every day.


Entre-Rios Argentina

Fell April 6, 2008 at ~ 10:03 PM.

(L6 chondrite veined)

Total estimated material recovered, ~10,000 grams.


At ~10:03 pm, a bright fireball was seen over central Uruguay and east-central Argentina. A massive ball of fire moving from south-southeast and heading to the north-northwest began over Uruguay and quickly passed over the Uruguay river into Entre-Rios state, Argentina. There were multiple large explosions seen by thousands of people all over both Argentina and Uruguay.

According to eyewitnesses that I interviewed myself in Argentina, and from news reports, it is clear that the fireball was very large. One eyewitness, a waiter at a restaurant in Colon, Argentina, said that when the last explosion occurred, he saw "thousands" of burning pieces falling from the sky like fireworks. People all over central Entre-Rios state felt the ground shake, and said that the booms were so strong, they thought that their homes would collapse.

The next day, meteorite pieces were reported found at a plant nursery in the tiny village named Berduc. Black stones were found among the greenhouses, on rooftops of homes and a store, and all over the roads, even  on highway 14.

I was in Washington DC doing a meteorite exchange at the Smithsonian Institution when this meteorite fell, and while at the airport coming home, I bought tickets to Argentina and began preparing for my first fall chase of 2008! I wanted to see for myself what this Argentina fall was about, and scout out the strewnfield. I live for the chase, and this looked like a good one.

Below are photos and reports about my trip.

This Google Earth map shows the locations of Berduc meteorites we found as well as stones found by locals. These points represent only a small amount of the stones recovered, but it gives a good idea of the density in the very small strewnfield. Large and small pieces were found mixed together, from 1 gram to 200 gram stones in the same area, suggesting a very short shotgun-blast strewnfield instead of a longer more narrow strewnfield. The greenhouses are on the left side, and many stones were found there by workers.

Our first night in Argentina, a typical "Gaucho Asado" barbeque. Robert Ward and Greg Hupe.
This is "Ground Zero", more or less around the center of the strewnfield as best as we could determine with our initial investigations. This multi-family house was pelted with many small meteorites. I interviewed the people living there, and they told me that they saw the sky light up outside like daylight, and when they ran to look, they saw a ball of fire to the east, which rapidly exploded. A few moments later, there were several large explosions that shook the house. They went back inside, and said that several minutes later they heard things hit the walls and rooftop like hail hitting the house. They were all too scared to go outside, so when morning came, they found small burned black stones all over the yard, and many pieces that had rolled off the rooftops all laying below the roof.
This is another view of the home of my new friend Manuel, a very enthusiastic 10 year old boy, and meteorite hunter extraordinaire! His home was showered with meteorites, and he and his mother told me that they had picked up "nearly a hundred" small pieces. I know it is true, I was with him when he showed me how to find meteorites by picking them up right and left right in front of me!

This little girl also found many stones around her house, shown here holding two small ones that hit her home. This meteorite "hammered" at least 3 homes, one store and several greenhouses, yet none of the stones penetrated or did any damage, unlike the Cali Colombia meteorite. It seems that the meteorites had slowed down enough to just plop down.


This is the local store/restaurant/watering hole of Berduc. It was hit by many small meteorites, which rolled off the roof and were found in the gutter the next day. The gravel parking lot contained many meteorites, all under 5 grams.

This view of the parking lot of the store shows a road crew, searching for meteorites on their lunch break. While I was there that day, having a cold drink, they all found meteorites, and were very happy men!  The meteorite came in from the right, and showered stones at least 2 kilometers to the east of the highway (the farthest piece we found in that side of the strewnfield) then passed over the highway dropping stones for at least another 3 kilometers (surely many more).  Many meteorite pieces were found on the highway, where cars had run them over and thrown them to the edges.


This is a small 17 gram complete Berduc meteorite. Note the very shiny fusion crust, and visible chondrule. Most pieces show chondrules which form glossy eucrite-like fusion crust when exposed. The meteorite has never been rained on, and it was extremely dry when I was there in the fall,  so all of the pieces we found are still absolutely pristine!


This photo shows what the majority of the strewnfield looks like, very thick brush, high weeds, and no chance of finding stones. I spent hours in this stuff with the wounds to prove it! It seems that every plant in Argentina is covered in spines, thorns, or burs which leave you bloody and wishing you had not tried to force your way through them! Still, it was worth the pain and every second of discomfort. We did see plenty of snakes, very poisonous ones called "Yarara", a pit viper. We saw at least 10 of them, as it was very warm on most days and they were active before winter set in. It kind of gnawed at you, crushing through that brush, totally unable to see what you were stepping on, and waiting for that bite to come! My first meteorite was found on the trail you see at the bottom left of this photo.


Greg getting primal on a large watermelon. Thirst will make you very desperate as it was very hot and after struggling through the brush, we found some old watermelons in a patch. The landowner said he was tired of watermelons after eating them all summer, so we could eat any we wanted. They were fantastic! This was in the middle of the strewnfield, you can see how thick the grass is!


My first Berduc meteorite find, an 8.46 gram 100% crusted individual. I found this meteorite within 5 minutes of hunting, actually walking down a trail towards where we planned to hunt. I saw it after the others stepped right over it.
This is my second find, a 20.47 gram complete stone, found only a few meters from the highway in heavy grass.
This is a 100% crusted half-kilo meteorite. You can see the hole it made on impact, and the stone simply bounced or rolled backward about
10 inches. The direction of the fall came from the left of the stone.

 513 gram stone close-up, still in situ, never touched by human hands, and only on our planet for 9 days before being found.


Me, looking very happy eh? It was very hot out, and I was tired of taking photos.

Here is an incredible 620 gram 100% crusted, flawless stone, cube-shaped, just balanced there, it seemed that it would roll down if you looked at it wrong!



My little friend, Manuel, pointing out a meteorite. Can you see it? Take a look at that stone, at his fingertips, almost invisible in the plowed soil. I walked right by it, he found it, and three others within the next 15 minutes! This kid could be a meteorite hunting legend some day!


The same stone found by Manuel above, but a closer view with flash photo. It stands out a little more that way.


Robert Ward with his last stone, a very nice complete piece found in high grass. We found 4 other meteorites weighing less than 10 grams within 30 meters of that stone.



This was my last meteorite find, a 4.44 gram broken stone with secondary crust found at 11:40 am on 18 April, 2008. Minutes after I found this stone, the landowner revoked permission to hunt on his land, it seems that he decided that he was tired of all the people around since the fall.


These are some of the locals, Rheas huge birds as tall as we are, which Robert tried to befriend to his detriment. He had a sandwich in his hand, and as he tried to give the bird a piece of bread it seems that these birds prefer meat, because it tried to take his fingers off! After that, we avoided them like the plague.