A man who was metal detecting in Australia thought he struck gold when he found a large rust-colored rock, but after further inspection, he learned it was much more unusual than that.
In 2015, David Hole of Maryborough, Queensland — a small city that was at the heart of the Victorian gold rush in the 1850s — was prospecting in Maryborough Regional Park when his metal detector picked up on something.
After some digging, he found an unusually heavy rock setting in yellow clay, as reported by ScienceAlert. Thinking there was gold inside of it, he took it home and attempted to break the rock open.
This proved to be a difficult task. Hole tried everything he could to get it open, including a rock saw, an angle grinder, a drill and even acid. But not even a sledgehammer could crack it.
Years passed, and he eventually took the rock to some experts at the Melbourne Museum. He was shocked to hear that the rock was not gold — it was a meteorite.
Our teams have identified and described a new METEORITE! The first Victorian meteorite found since 1995, the Maryborough Meteorite, was found by a gold fossicker in regional Vic. Read all about it via @liammannix @theage – https://t.co/oHr4zHcEcZ pic.twitter.com/4JM3LuzSAl
— Museums Victoria (@museumsvictoria) July 16, 2019
As Melbourne Museum geologist Dermot Henry told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2019, the rock “had this sculpted, dimpled look to it,” which is usually “formed when they come through the atmosphere.”
After working at the museum for decades and examining thousands of rocks, Henry said only one had turned out to be a real meteorite. Hole’s discovery was the second.
The Maryborough meteorite, as it is now called, weighed 37.5 pounds, which is far heavier than the average rock of the same size.
“If you saw a rock on Earth like this, and you picked it up, it shouldn’t be that heavy,” said Bill Birch, a geologist at the museum, adding that after using a diamond saw to cut past the surface, researchers found that it had a high percentage of iron and nickel.
Man Keeps Rock For Years, Hoping It’s Gold. It Turns Out to Be Far More Valuable https://t.co/GZN51VyVDs
— ScienceAlert (@ScienceAlert) November 25, 2022
They believe that the rock came from “the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and it’s been nudged out of there by some asteroids smashing into each other,” Henry explained.
The meteorite went on display at Melbourne Museum in August 2019 as part of the museum’s National Science Week event.
Missed out on seeing the Maryborough Meteorite? Don’t despair, it’s now on display in our Dynamic Earth exhibition! 👏😎 pic.twitter.com/5ZRLuukTAp
— Melbourne Museum (@melbournemuseum) September 3, 2019
☄️ This is one meteorite story you you’d never see coming… Don’t miss your chance to see @museumsvictoria newest Maryborough Meteorite on display at Science on Show for @Aus_ScienceWeek, this August: https://t.co/NPJhTUx38U pic.twitter.com/LZJlJpNxLF
— Melbourne Museum (@melbournemuseum) July 17, 2019
Hole was excited to learn about his discovery — only the 17th meteorite ever found in Victoria.
“It was just pot luck, mate. A billion to one – bigger, a trillion to one,” he said, according to the Herald. “Got more chance of being struck by lightning twice.”
The researchers said the meteorite most likely fell to Earth less than 200 years ago and might have been sighted when it did.
Only a few falling meteorites have been recorded in the area, but the Herald noted that in June 1951, a local newspaper reported such a sight above Maryborough.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.