News June 2016

Published on Jun 15, 2016


Director | Curator | Store
Events | Science | Support

Directives-Meteorites in Maine

By Barbra Barrett, MMGM Director


At the Museum and More…

MMGM Tours & Talks
June 21, 2016
3:00 – 4:30 pm
Talk: A Bicentennial Look at Greenwood Mines and Mining with Carl Francis, MMGM Curator.

Mollyockett Day
July 16, 2016
9:00 – 5:00
Come visit us on the Common our Sluice will be running! Museum Store and Preview Gallery will also be open.

Sluice Saturday
10:00 – 4:00 MMGM Rock Garden
July 2, 2016
July 30, 2016
August 13, 2016
$8.00 per bag or 2 for $15.00


Barbra Barrett-1

Many of our readers are aware of the memorable moment in the early morning hours on May 17th that occurred when a massive fireball entered the atmosphere and was witnessed by thousands of people in the Northeast and Canada before breaking apart over the forested area north of Rangeley, Maine. For those of you who actually saw or heard the fireball, you know just how remarkable it was.

Meteorites are extraordinarily rare objects. They tell the story of the formation, age and composition of our solar system. There have been only five meteorites recovered in the state of Maine. It goes without saying that we are ecstatic that there is an opportunity to find the state’s sixth meteorite.

We are confident that there are meteorites from the fireball event on the 17th on the ground. Museum staff members took to the woods to search in the days following. Even Robert Ward, a renowned meteorite hunter from Arizona, was confident enough to fly to Maine and join the search. Unfortunately, no one has recovered any meteorites—yet!

MMGM, friends and family out hunting.

MMGM, friends and family out hunting.

We have our fingers crossed that some extraterrestrial rocks will turn up over the next few months as more people frequent the woods and return to their camps for the summer. Keep looking!

We have received many calls and emails from folks who think they have found a meteorite. While so far all of these have been meteor-wrongs, it has been inspiring that so many people are taking interest and a lot of fun hearing your stories.

For information about the search area please check out the map on MMGM’s website at If you think you have found a meteorite, please check out one of the several meteorite identification sites online or send us a message with your photo attached at

meteorite hunting2-lr

Robert Ward, Barbra Barrett, Annemarie Saunders and Fred Bailey

MMGM is still offering a reward for recovered meteorites. Have fun, be safe, seek landowner permissions as necessary, and don’t forget to look to the sky.

Collections-Books are Still Necesssary!

By Carl Francis, PhD, MMGM Curator

Carl Francis, MMGM Curatorbook-lrIn this era of electronic communication, digital photography and social media, printed books may seem retro, yet they are indispensable sources of information for both the curation of collections and the development of exhibits and educational programming. MMGM is fortunate to already have assembled a library of some 1,600 books both old and new as well as extensive runs of various journals.

MMGM’s first large acquisition of books was the Perham Library, acquired in 2012 along with the Perham’s of West Paris display collection of Maine minerals. Books also accompanied our acquisition of minerals from Wynne Keller and Raymond Woodman. The books accompanying the Gene Bearss minerals are numerous, mostly contemporary and indeed useful and referenced on a regular basis.

Gifts of books have been received from MMGM Trustees Arthur Hussey, Robert Richie, and Stephen Seames, and from MMGM staff members Carl Francis, James Mann, and William ‘Skip’ Simmons. Additional donors include Lawrence White and Robert Whitmore. Just today, I delivered to collections manager, Fred Bailey (for George Megerle), A System of Mineralogy by Robert Jameson published in Edinburgh in 1820!

Libraries are deaccessioning their extensive holdings of government publications. As a result, MMGM has received transfers of U.S. Geological Survey Bulletins and topographic maps from Bowdoin College and universities in Alabama, Illinois, North Carolina and Washington.

Journals are also valuable and often available. In 2014, MMGM received an extraordinary gift from Tomas Feininger, a retired professor of geology at Laval University. His 70 boxes of books—mostly bound journals—were moved from Quebec City to MMGM by Kyle Snogren. Gifts of journals have also been received from Carl Francis, William ‘Skip’ Simmons and Robert Whitmore.

The Rocks Of Ages Used-Rare & Out-of-Print Books for Collectors Summer 2016 catalogue arrived this morning and I’ll be scrutinizing it tonight. Now, if we only had a librarian!

Events-Introducing Sluicing Saturdays

By Annemarie Saunders, MMGM Staff

Annemarie 2016-ccsluiceSummer is here, come cool off and get your hands wet.  MMGM will be rolling out our mineral sluice for kids of all ages to find some excellent Maine minerals sourced from local mines.   Sluicing Saturdays will take place on select Saturdays in MMGM’s Rock Garden and around town for special events.

We will kick off Sluicing Saturdays during the Bethel Art Fair on Saturday, July 2 at MMGM.  Join us with your junior rockhound, you’ll be sure to go home with a treasure.

MMGM Rock Garden Hours 10 am – 4 pm
MMGM Rock Garden July 2, 2016 – Bethel Art Fair
MMGM Rock Garden July 30, 2016
MMGM Rock Garden August 13, 2016
On the Common Hours  9 am – 5 pm
MMGM MollyOckett Day Booth on the Common July 16, 2016

Treasures-The Inspiration of a Fireball

By Maggie Kroenke, MMGM Staff

Maggiemeteorite braceletBright white light streaks through the sky. A sonic boom shakes your house.  Is it a plane? No, it’s a fireball!

Very rarely seen, and widely celebrated, these events coincide with a potential meteorite fall.  While most meteorites reside in museums and other institutions, some end up in jewelry. The MMGM Museum Store has stunning examples featuring the Muonionalusta and the Camp del Cielo meteorites.

store jewelry 3_2d_0005-lrThe Muonionalusta meteorite was found in Sweden and features the widmanstätten pattern, a weaving of elements within the meteorite. Our exquisite jewelry has been etched with an acid to bring out its intrinsic pattern.

The Campo del Cielo meteorite was found in Argentina is an octahedrite. MMGM’s pieces from this meteorite have not been etched and are in their more rough state.

All of the meteorites have been set in sterling silver and we guarantee no aliens have hitched a ride on these pieces!

Hours: Monday through Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.


By Al Falster and Skip Simmons, MMGM MP2 Research Group

Skip and Al (2)-lr

We have looked at a number of interesting samples in the lab and here are some views of what we saw.  Who says, science can’t be beautiful as well as interesting?

The first one is a chondrule in chondritic meteorite.  We have a thin section of this specimen and saw an intriguing chondrule that we then tried to locate in the SEM.

Here is what we saw under the petrographic microscope:

Fig. 1: Petrographic image of a chondrule,under plane polarized image.


Fig 2: The above image viewed under crossed Nichols.

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Fig. 3: And this is what we saw in the SEM! Areas 1.6, and 7 are spinel, Areas 2,3,4, 8 and 9 are olivine, Areas 5,10, 1nd 11 are glass.

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Fig. 4: X-ray map of the image shown in Fig. 3.Red: magnesium, green: calcium, Blue: aluminum, yellow: sulfur, olive: iron.

Next is a backscattered electron image of a small columbite-tantalite (columbite-tantalite is a mineral group that consists of iron and manganese niobium-tantalum oxides) from a pegmatite in the Songo pluton not far from Bethel.  This is an unusual specimen as in most cases in the area, columbite-tantalite does not show such distinct oscillatory zonation.

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Fig. 5: Backscattered electron image of a columbite-tantalite with oscillatory zoning.The core of the crystal is to the lower left. Brighter areas indicate higher tantalum.

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