International Comet Quarterly

Some interesting meteorite falls of the last two centuries

Records in the past century indicate that roughly one impact of a meteorite fall per year is found to hit a human-built structure, often causing some minor damage; there are thus many more meteorites hitting human structures per year, with Halliday et al. (1985, *Nature* *318*, p. 317) estimating that roughly sixteen buildings per year in the world would receive some damage, and that a person would be expected to be struck about once every nine years on average -- a number suggesting (along with quite a large number of reported animal deaths due to meteorite falls over the millennia) that reports of human deaths (see list below) are indeed likely to be true in at least some historical cases. The most recent purported human death attributed to a meteorite fall, announced in the New York Times, occurred on 1929 Nov. 20, when one person in a carriage of a bridal party in Zvezvan, Yugoslavia, was reportedly killed (and another injured) after being hit by a 40-cm meteorite. While no meteorite has been found, the famous Tunguska fireball air blast of 1908 June 30 over Siberia knocked several people off their feet, hurled one person several meters through the air, killed a herd of reindeer, and demolished the forest with trees blown down radially outward from the center of the blast for 2150 square km (Brown 1973; Steele 1995, 2000)-- and it can easily be surmised that a few nomadic people in the sparsely-populated area may have been killed. [Note: an html version of this page can be accessed at this link]


DATE          LOCATION                REMARKS                          REFERENCES
1807 12 14    Weston, CT, U.S.A.     meteor visible half a minute,      [21]
                                      loud sounds heard, many stones
                                      found scattered over 6-10
                                      miles, weighing as much as
                                      200 lbs. total (largest
                                      meteorite weighed 35 lbs)

1825 01 16    Oriang, Malwate,       man killed, woman injured in       [14, 17,
               India                  meteorite fall [considered           25]
                                      "possible" by LaPaz (1958)]

1827 02 16    Mhow, India            man wounded "severely in the       [12, 17,
                                      arm" when hit by meteorite           25]

1836 11 11    Macau, Brazil          cattle killed when hit by          [12, 17,
                                      shower of meteorites                 25]
                                      [considered "possible" by
                                       LaPaz (1958)]

1844 12 01    Lo-shih Shan,          eleven stones fell; wall and side    [1]
                An-chi, China         wall and room of Li Wei-kung's 
                                      Temple damaged

1847 07 14    Hauptmannsdorf,        37-pound Braunau iron meteorite    [12, 17,
               Braunau, Bohemia       smashed into a room, covering        25]
                                      three children with ceiling
                                      debris but not hurting them

1850 10 17    Tang village, near     shiny black stone broke through      [1]
                T'ing-ch'eng, China   roof of a house

1860 05 01    New Concord, OH,       horse struck and killed by         [12, 17,
               USA                    meteorite                            25]

1863 08 08    Pillistfer, Latvia     5.4-kg stony meteorite               [25]
                                      penetrated tile roof and
                                      floor of building

1868 01 30    Pultusk, Poland        meteorite shower of more than        [12,
                                      100,000 fragments; bright fireball    27]

1874 06 30    Chin-kuei Shan,        huge stone fell from sky, crushed     [1]
               Ming-tung Li, China    half a cottage, killing a child

1879 01 31    Dun-le-Poelier, France  farmer reported killed by meteorite  [26]

1879 Nov./Dec.  Huang-hsiang, China  many black stones rained down,        [1]
                                      damaging many houses; sulfur smell

1882 02 03    Mocs, Romania          meteorite shower of thousands        [12, 
                                      of fragments; bright fireball         27]

1890 05 02    Forest City, IA, USA   meteorite shower of some 2000        [12,
                                      fragments; one fragment fell into     27]
                                      a pile of hay (no fire); bright
                                      fireball seen

1893 09 02    Zabrodje, White        3-kg stony meteorite fell through    [25]
                 Russia               house roof

1906 11 04    Constantia, South      1-kg stony meteorite smashed         [25]
                 Africa               through roof and ceiling
                                      (2-pound piece recovered)

1907 09 05    Hsin-p-ai Wei,         meteorite caused a house to           [1]
               Weng-li, China         collapse, killing a family

1908 06 30    Tunguska, Siberia      apparent airblast (no recovered     [15,
                                      meteorites) of an object entering    26,
                                      earth's atmosphere; leveled           27]
                                      hundreds of square miles of forest,
                                      killing hundreds of reindeer;
                                      unverified two people killed

1911 06 16    Kilbourn, WI, USA      772-gm stony meteorite passed        [25]
                                      through roof and floorboard of
                                      barn, penetrated 2.5 inches into
                                      clay floor

1911 06 28    Nakhla, Egypt          dog struck and killed by           [12, 17,
                                      meteorite (part of meteorite         25]
                                      shower)

1912 07 19    Holbrook, AZ, USA      meteorite shower of more than      [12, 13]
                                      14000 fragments; meteorite
                                      fell a few meters from a person;
                                      largest fragment 9 pounds

1915 04 25    Ta-yang, east of       meteorite tore off a woman's         [1]
               Mai-po, China          arm; several meteorites, ranging
                                      from about 2 to about 3.5 kg

1916 01 18    Baxter, MO, USA        611-gm stony meteorite               [25]
                                      penetrated roof of house

1921 12 31    Beyrout, Syria         1.1-kg stony meteorite fell          [25]
                                      through hut roof

1924 07 06    Johnstown, CO, USA     meteorites fell within a few feet    [13]
                                      of two men; 50-pound stone went
                                      5 feet into wet soil

1927 04 28    Aba-mura, Inashiki-    young girl suffered two head      [16, 25]
               gun, Ibaragi-ken,      injuries when struck by a
               Japan                  stony meteorite

1929 11 20    Zvezvan, Yugoslavia    man riding in a carriage in         [28]
                                      a wedding party was killed when
                                      hit by a 40-cm meteorite; a
                                      woman sitting opposite him
                                      was badly injured; "meteor ...
                                      was glowing hot"

1932 08 10    Archie, MO, USA        meteorite fell less than 1 m      [12, 13]
                                      from person

1936 04 02    Yurtuk, Ukraine        2-kg stony meteorite smashed         [25]
                                      hole in roof of house

1938 03 31    Kasamatsu, Japan       721-gm stony meteorite               [25]
                                      penetrated house roof, landed
                                      on floor

1938 06 16    Pantar, Philippines    numerous buildings hit by          [12, 25]
                                      thousands of meteorites "as
                                      big as corn and rice grains"

1938 06 24    Chicora, PA, USA       cow's hide injured, presumably     [17, 25,
                                      by a fragment belonging to the        27]
                                      meteorite shower in that area
                                      on that day; bright fireball seen

1938 09 29    Benld, IL, USA         building and car hit by stony      [12, 13,
                                      meteorites; the car was hit by        25]
                                      a 4-pound fragment after it
                                      crashed through the roof of a
                                      garage, then through roof, seat,
                                      and floorboards of car

1947 02 12    Sikhote-Alin, south-   largest meteorite shower on        [2, 27]
               eastern Siberia        record; estimated 100 tons of         
                                      total debris fell, the largest
                                      weighing 1745 kg; some 9000
                                      fragments weighing about 28
                                      tons recovered; largest crater
                                      28 m wide; bright fireball

1949 09 21    Beddgelert, N. Wales   794-gm stony meteorite broke         [25]
                                      through roof and fell into 
                                      hotel room

1950 09 20    Murray, KY, USA        five buildings hit by meteorites;    [12,
                                      bright fireball seen                  27]

1950 12 10    St. Louis, MO, USA     car hit by meteorite                 [12]

1954 11 30    Sylacauga, AL, USA     woman in home hit by meteorite      [3, 12,
                                      after breaking through roof          25]

1965 12 24    Barwell, England       two buildings and a car hit by       [12]
                                      by meteorites

1971 04 08    Wethersfield, CT,      12-ounce meteorite entered house    [4, 12]
               USA                    through roof, lodged in living-
                                      room ceiling; ordinary chondrite;
                                      less than two miles away, another
                                      house was hit 11.5 yr later

1976 03 08    Jilin City, Jilin,     largest stony-meteorite shower      [1, 12]
               China                  in recent times; more than          
                                      100 fragments, the largest
                                      being 1770 kg in weight and
                                      making an impact crater 6 m deep;
                                      H5 chondrite

1977 01 31    Louisville, KY, USA    three buildings and a car hit by   [12, 24]
                                      meteorites

1982 11 08    Wethersfield, CT,      meteorite entered house through     [4, 12,
               USA                    roof; second house hit in same        26]
                                      town in 11.5 years; L6 chondrite

1984 09 30    Binningup, WA,         meteorite fell 4-5 m from two        [12]
               Australia              sunbathers on soft beach sand

1984 12 10    Claxton, GA, USA       mailbox hit by meteorite             [12]

1986 07 29    Kokubunji, Japan       several buildings hit by meteorites  [12]

1991 08 31    Noblesville, IN, USA   meteorite fell 3.5 m from two        [5]
                                      children outside; ordinary
                                      stony chondrite

1992 08 14    Mbale, Uganda          meteorite shower; boy hit on         [6]
                                      head by 3.6-g fragment after
                                      it hit tree first                  

1992 10 09    Peekskill, NY, USA     car hit by meteorite, which          [7]
                                      passed through steel trunk
                                      and impacted ground underneath;
                                      fireball widely visible and
                                      imaged along east coast

1992 12 10    Mihonoseki, Honshu,    6.5-kg L6 ordinary chondrite         [10]
               Japan                  meteorite crashed through house
                                      to ground

1994 06 14    St-Robert, QC,         meteorite shower caused sonic        [8]
               Canada                 boom in Montreal; scattered
                                      strewnfield in rural area;
                                      more than 25 kg recovered;
                                      H5 chondrite

1994 06 21    near Getafe, Spain     12-cm-wide, 1.4-kg meteorite         [11]
                                      broke windshield and bent
                                      steering wheel of moving car,
                                      breaking finger of driver;
                                      more than 50 kg of meteorites
                                      found within 200 m of accident

2003 03 26    Chicago, IL, USA       meteorite shower; buildings          [9]
                                      hit in Park Forest, IL;
                                      ordinary chondrites

2003 09 27    Mayurbhanj,            bright fireball(s) lit up sky just   [18]
               Orissa, India          after sunset; widely observed
                                      meteorite shower yielding 
                                      numerous highly magnetic meteorites

2004 06 12    Ellerslie, suburban    1.3-kg (2.8-lb) 7-cm x 13-cm         [19]
               Auckland, N.Z.         meteorite broke through roof of
                                      house and bounced off sofa

2007 09 15    Carancas, Peru         13.5-m-diameter crater created by    [22]
               (near Lake Titicaca    mid-day visible fireball
                at alt. 3824 m)       meteorite, numerous ordinary
                                      chondrites H4-5 recovered;
                                      made international news when
                                      local people complained of
                                      illness -- not yet definitively
                                      explained

2008 10 06    Nubian desert,         47 meteorites weighing 3.95 kg       [23]
               northern Sudan         were found in Dec. 2008 via a
              (Almahata Sitta)        systematic search along the
                                      suspected debris path for the
                                      small minor planet 2008 TC3,
                                      discovered 20 hours prior to 
                                      impact by R. A. Kowalski with the 
                                      1.5-m telescope at Mt. Lemmon in 
                                      Arizona, when it was about 370000 
                                      miles from the earth; a bright
                                      fireball was seen by airline
                                      pilots and orbiting satellites
                                      when the object entered the
                                      earth's atmosphere; the largest
                                      recovered meteorite weights 1.5 g
                                      (classified as a polymict ureilite,
                                      an achondrite)

2013 02 15    near Chelyabinsk,      extremely bright fireball            [20]
               south-central Russia   (apparent brightness rivalling
                                      that of the apparent brightness
                                      of the sun) entered atmosphere
                                      over Alaska and moving westward
                                      toward Chelyabinsk, near its
                                      termination point shortly before
                                      sunrise, creating a huge airblast
                                      shock that damaged thousands of
                                      buildings in Chelyabinsk (mostly 
                                      broken glass) and injuring more
                                      than 1000 people; apparently
                                      meteorites were found in water
                                      under a large circular broken-
                                      ice feature found soon after the
                                      event

---------- 
REFERENCES
----------
[1] Yau et al. (1994), Meteoritics 29, 864

[2] Fessenkov (1955), "Sikhote-Aline Meteorite", in Meteors (ed. by T. R. Kaiser, Pergamon Press, London), p. 179; Gallant (1997), Sky Telesc. 93(2), 50; website with info

[3] Swindel and Jones (1954), Meteoritics 1, 125

[4] di Cicco (1983), Sky Telesc. 65, 118;

[5] Sky Telesc. 83, 372 (April 1992)

[6] website with info; Jenniskens et al. (1994), Meteoritics 29, 246; Sky & Telescope, June 1993, p. 96

[7] Brown et al. (1994), Nature 367, 624; di Cicco (1993), Sky Telesc. 85(2), 26

[8] Brown et al. (1996), Meteoritics & Planetary Sci. 31, 502; Hildebrand et al. (1997), J. Roy. Astron. Soc. Canada 91, 261

[9] http://www.fmnh.org/research_collections/geology/meteor.htm

[10] Sky Telesc. 86(2), 13 (Aug. 1993)

[11] Sky Telesc. 88(6), 12 (Dec. 1994)

[12] Spratt and Stephens (1992), Mercury, Mar./Apr. 1992, p. 50; Spratt (1991), JRASC 85, 263

[13] Nininger (1952), Out of the Sky: An Introduction to Meteorites, Univ. of Denver Press

[14] Gritzner (1997), WGN 25, 222

[15] Sekanina (1983), A.J. 88, 1382; Melosh (1993), Nature 361, 14; Lyne and Tauber (1995) Nature 375, 638; Sekanina (1998), Planet. Space Sci. 46, 191; Bronshten (2000), Planet. Space Sci. 48, 855; Hou et al. (2000), Planet. Space Sci. 48, 1447; P. L. Brown (1973), Comets, Meteorites and Men (New York, NY: Taplinger Publ. Co.), pp. 192-197; D. Steel (1995), Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets (New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons), pp. 173-176; D. Steel (2000), Target Earth (Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest), pp. 86-87.

[16] Yamamoto and Murayama (1951), Pop. Astron. 59, 431, 432

[17] LaPaz (1951), Pop. Astron. 59, 433

[18] CCNet reports

[19] Aug. 2004 issue of Meteorite, article by Brenda Archer; Summer 2005 issue of Inside Smithsonian Research (No. 9, p. 16), article by John Barrat; video of the aftermath; also numerous WWW news articles, such as http://www.geo-earth.com/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t2490.html (do a Google search with +"Brenda Archer" +meteorite).

[20] See this webpage. With standard caution, see the the Wikipedia article on this event. Information has been compiled at this website.

[21] Elements of Astronomy, Descriptive and Physics, by Hervey Wilbur (1839, New York: Scofield and Voorhies; and Boston: Whipple and Damrell), pp. 106-107.

[22] J. Borovicka and P. Spurny (2008), Astron. Astrophys. 485, L1; G. Tancredi et al. (2009), Meteoritics & Planetary Sci. 44, 1967. With standard caution, see also the Wikipedia article on this event.

[23] P. Jenniskens et al. (2009), Nature 458, 485-488 (26 March).

[24] A. L. Graham and R. S. Clarke, Jr., eds. (1978), "The Meteoritical Bulletin" No. 55, in Meteoritics 13, 341.

[25] L. LaPaz (1958), "The Effects of Meteorites Upon the Earth", Adv. in Geophys. 4, 217ff.

[26] J. S. Lewis (1996), Rain of Iron and Ice (New York, NY: Addison Wesley Publishing Co.), pp. 162-182.

[27] A. V. Nielsen (1968), "Catalogue of Bright Meteors", Meddelelser fra Ole Romer-Observatoriet, No. 39 (Aarhus, Denmark).

[28] "Little Thing Like a Meteor Fails to Discourage Bride", New York Times, 1929 Dec. 8, page E1.


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