Not only did the brilliant meteor that recently lit up the sky over Russia bring to mind scenes from Michael Bay’s epic space adventure Armageddon, but it kicked off something of a scientific scavenger hunt. Collectors, researches, and treasure hunters out to make a quick buck have begun scouring the region near the Ural Mountains in hopes of finding rock fragments that could be worth some serious coin.
One such searcher posited that the stone splinters may be worth up to $2,200 per gram, which is more than 40 times the current price of gold. This all depends on how much is ultimately found; the more scarce the item, the more valuable it will be to collectors and scientists.
Representatives from the Urals Federal University found 53 small meteorites around Lake Cherbarkul, near Chelyabinsk, approximately 950 miles east of Moscow. While all the shards were tiny—between .2 to .4 inches across—scientists theorize that some larger chunks could have landed in the lake, where a 26-foot-wide crater appeared in the ice on the surface.
Viktor Grokhovsky, from the UFU, says, “These are classified as ordinary chondrites, or stony meteorites, with an iron content of about 10 percent.”
Friday’s incident resulted in 1,200 injuries, none serious, thankfully, and caused more than $33 million in damages. The surprise meteor is estimated to have weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 pounds, and was around 55 feet across when it entered Earth’s atmosphere.
Reports have it that more than 20,000 people showed up to take part in the cleanup and help find remains in the aftermath of what is being called a “once in a century event.” Some were there to lend a hand, while others wanted to be a part of history, score a unique souvenir, or maybe make a few extra dollars in a tough economy.