GREENSBURG, Kan. – A rare 1,400-pound meteorite was discovered seven feet underground by a collector in an area long known for producing prized space rocks.
Using a metal detector mounted on a three-wheel vehicle, Steve Arnold of Kingston, Ark., found the huge meteorite two weeks ago in Kiowa County's Brenham Township in southern Kansas.
The meteorite is classified as an oriented pallasite, a type noted for a conical shape with crystals embedded in iron-nickel alloy. Only two larger ones of that type are known to have been found: a 3,100-pounder in Australia and a 1,500-pounder in Argentina.
The Kansas rock was found in the same area that in 1949 produced a 1,000-pound meteorite now on display at the Celestial Museum in Greensburg.
Meteorites change shape as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. An oriented meteorite, which is rare, maintains a stable flight rather than tumbling.
"It is aesthetically the type of meteorite that makes collectors drool," said Arnold, who has hunted for meteorites around the world and estimates his find is worth "seven figures."
Arnold said he wants to sell it, preferably to a museum or someone who will keep it intact.
Most pieces found in the area are no larger than a grapefruit, said Rex Buchanan, associate director of the Kansas Geological Survey.