History of the American Museum of Natural History meteorite collection
Denton S. Ebel, 2006. "History of the American Museum of Natural History meteorite collection", The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections: Fireballs, Falls and Finds, G.J.H. McCall, A.J. Bowden, R.J. Howarth
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The core meteorite collection of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), New York, including the massive Cape York and Willamette irons, dates from the three decades ending in 1905. Acquisition of new meteorites was steady into the 1970s, and accelerated in the latter 20th century. Institutional and philanthropic support, coupled with the focus, energy and vision of a succession of curators, have been central to building the collection, exhibiting meteorites, educating the public and participating at the cutting edge of meteoritical science. Efforts to describe and classify, characteristic of the pre-war period, evolved into detailed chemical investigations. Recent science seeks to find underlying processes unifying disparate meteorite groups in a coherent story of the early solar system and planet formation.
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This Special Publication has 24 papers with an international authorship, and is prefaced by an introductory overview which presents highlights in the field. The first section covers the acceptance by science of the reality of the falls of rock and metal from the sky, an account that takes the reader from BCE (before common era) to the nineteenth century. The second section details some of the world's most important collections in museums - their origins and development. The Smithsonian chapter also covers the astonishingly numerous finds in the cold desert of Antarctica by American search parties. There are also contributions covering the finds by Japanese parties in the Yamato mountains and the equally remarkable discoveries in the hot deserts of Australia, North Africa, Oman and the USA. The other seven chapters take the reader through the revolution in scientific research on meteoritics in the later part of the twentieth century, including terrestrial impact cratering and extraordinary showers of glass from the sky; tektites, now known to be Earth-impact-sourced. Finally, the short epilogue looks to the future.
The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections should appeal to historians of science, meteoriticists, geologists, astronomers, curators and the general reader with an interest in science.