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Aguas Zarcas

Costa Rica
Fell april 23, 2019
CM2 chondrite
Total mass : 27 kg

In collection :
93.6 grams 99% crusted specimen


Complete report on Aguas Zarcas meteorite fall (thanks a lot to Martin Kappler, karmaka.de).
The report with all photos and illustrations can be read on karmaka.de

On 23 April 2019 at about 9.07.22-26 p.m. CST (3.07.22-26 UTC, 24 April) a regmaglypted meteorite, a carbonaceous chondrite (CM-type), weighing about 1152 grams, fell through the corrugated zinc sheet of the patio overhang of a house in La Caporal (~ 10°23’38.15″N, 84°20’20.51″W) in the district Aguas Zarcas. It split a cable and a wooden beam (~3x2x1 inches) of the roof structure and landed between two collapsible plastic tables which were stored vertically on the ground next to a wall at the backside of the house. The calculated entry angle is about 76 degrees from the ground, coming in from a south-southwestern direction. At around 9.10 p.m. the female home owner was watching TV when she suddenly heard a

‘weird noise’ from the back of her house. She turned down the volume of the TV and went outside to the back of the house where she noticed a hole in the corrugated zinc roof, some rock fragments on the concrete floor, two damaged white tables and something which was stuck between them. She immediately called her oldest son, her father and her brother. Her brother told her that it was a meteorite. The home owner said the meteorite was still hot when she touched it while pulling it out from the narrow space between the tables. The fact that the meteorite landed between the two tables probably kept it from shattering on impact on the hard concrete floor. In some photos of the meteorite some flat chips of the meteorite which broke off on impact can be seen, revealing the dark lithology of the carbonaceous chondrite. The exact location of the house in La Caporal has not been disclosed due to the fact that the home owner wishes to remain anonymous. After her find the woman called the authorities to report her find. When they arrived the police apparently wanted to confiscate the meteorite which the owners did not allow. The wise home owner has meanwhile moved the meteorite to a safe place outside her house and keeps only a few small fragments which broke off on impact. She intends to wait until the meteorite is analysed and will then decide what do to with it. After some first photos appeared in the local social media it was local journalist Allan Jara who first reported from the fall location in La Caporal via livestream from about two hours after the fall on 23 April. He interviewed the home owner about the exact circumstances of her find. Journalist Édgar Chinchilla equally reported from the fall location via livestream about an hour later. Witnesses in La Caporal report that they heard two claps of thunder after seeing the bolide. This corresponds to the apparent two flares of the bolide. Gerardo Soto Rodriguez, Óscar Lücke Castro and Pilar Madrigal Quesada of the Geology Department (CICG) at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) performed a first visual analysis of the meteorite at the fall location in La Caporal on 26 April and were given about 50 grams of fragments which had broken off the main mass on impact for analysis which is estimated to take about three weeks. The owner of the meteorite is very aware of the historic and scientific value of this meteorite fall. A thorough classification of this important meteorite will be performed and will eventually lead to an official entry in the Meteoritical Bulletin Database of the Meteoritical Society and thus will be the second officially acknowledged meteorite fall in Costa Rica, after Heredia in 1857. The official name of the new meteorite will probably be AGUAS ZARCAS (prov.) as it was announced in a UCR press release / PDF on 29 April 2019. The press release (29 April 2019) by the Sección de Petrografía y Geoquímica of the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) can be downloaded here: PDF (download). Some scientific analyses will be made within Costa Rica, others will be done by experts from other countries. As it has been done for other recent meteorite falls it’s likely that an international consortium of scientists will be established again to thoroughly analyse this important meteorite fall.

Currently known strewn field area between La Caporal de Aguas Zarcas and Santa Rosa de La Palmera. The three large specimens appear to have been found along an almost 5-km long virtual line (AZ2-AZ3-AZ1) with an azimuth of ~ 284°-287° (from north). Although it has been done since 1803 an elliptical encircling of the fall locations of meteorites in a strewn field is scientifically inappropriate and rather arbitrary and thus should be avoided.

On 24 April locals started to look for meteorites in the area. Until 27 April pristine specimens with a total weight of 5 to 10 kg had been found. At least five bigger specimens (weighing several hundred grams to 1.16 kg) and several mid-sized ones (diameter: ~ 5-8 cm) have been found with apparently a few weighing between 100 and 200 grams. Most specimens did not break on impact. Some specimens show rollover lips at the trailing side of the meteorite and some show iridescent effects on the fusion crust inside the regmaglypts as it can be seen in the photos of the ‘third announced find’ below. Hundreds of fully intact smaller specimens (~1 to 4 cm in diameter) have been found in the area. In the afternoon of 27 April rain started to fall in the strewn field having a negative impact on the chemical composition of the meteorites on the ground which deteriorate fast which makes them much less suited for scientific research. The rainfall continued during the following three days. The exact amount of meteorites which have been found and often been sold by early May is very hard to estimate, but could be about 10 to 20 kilograms.

The first find

La Caporal de Aguas Zarcas, 1152 grams, 23 April 2019

The meteorite weighs 1152 grams in total (recovered fragments). The main mass alone weighs 1071 grams (~ 10.6 x 10.3 x 9 cm). Many fragments have been found including one with the maximum dimensions of about 3.2 x 2.7 cm)

The second announced find

La Cocaleca in Santa Rosa de Palmera, 361 grams, 24 April 2019

A 100-percent fusion-crusted flat regmaglypted meteorite specimen of 361 grams has been found in a grassy area by two women in the La Cocaleca area of the Santa Rosa area of the district La Palmera, close to location 10°24’16.75″N, 84°23’0.85″W (about 2.3 kilometers west-northwest from the fall location on the concrete road and about 4.9 km west-northwest of the fall site in La Caporal) . On 25 April Víctor Julio Vargas Hernández, who had been informed about the find by his niece around noon, presented a meteorite which had been found by his two nieces at the edge of a road only about 2o meters away from where they live. When Vargas heard about it he went to the fall location. The meteorite was initially stored at a safe place and then sold. According to Vargas they first started to look for meteorites on 24 April and already found two smaller and one larger specimen on that day. Local journalists Édgar Chinchilla and Allan Jara together reported about this apparently third or fourth find of the Vargas family in a livestream on 25 April. Allan Jara kindly provided the excellent photos of the specimen to the public.

The third announced find

La Palmera district, 622 grams, ~ 12 x 8 x 5 cm, 24 April 2019

A third meteorite said to weigh slightly more than one kilogram was found by a farm worker on a small concrete street in a rural area of the district La Palmera in the morning of 24 April. The find location was reported to be in the Las Termales area, about two kilometers from where the nieces of Víctor Julio Vargas Hernández found their large specimen. The exact find location has not been published but we suppose it to be at or close to location 10°24’04.1″N 84°21’45.4″W (about 2.6 km west-northwest of La Caporal). The man, who prefers to remain anonymous, was on his usual way to work in the morning at about 8 o’clock when he noticed a rock which was different from the other ones around. He was initially hesitant to touch it and to pick it up. Later after his wife had seen the local news he learned that the rock was in fact a meteorite as the one from La Caporal the local media had been reporting about. The meteorite left a mark of dust and several smaller fragments on the street surface. Fortunately the meteorite did not shatter when impacting the street surface. Furthermore the meteorite shows some iridescence on the fusion crust within its regmaglypts which sometimes can be observed on meteorites, as for example on specimens of Murchison and Chelyabinsk. Journalist Allan Jara reported about this find in a livestream on 25 April and kindly provided the excellent photos of the specimen to the public. The meteorite might already have been sold.