To be or not to be, that is the question: The Marsala meteorite (Italy, 1834) and the role of the doubtful meteorites in the history of meteoritics

1Annarita Franza,2Marco Morelli,2Daniela Faggi,1,3Giovanni Pratesi
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article []
1Department of Earth Sciences, University of Firenze, via G. La Pira 4, 50122 Florence, Italy
2Fondazione PARSEC, Via Galcianese 20/h, 59100 Prato, Italy
3INAF‐IAPS, Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Via Fosso del Cavaliere 100, 00133 Rome, Italy
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

This work focuses on the historical and scientific investigation of a presumed meteorite fall that occurred in the Sicilian township of Marsala in 1834. Preliminary studies have classified this phenomenon as a “doubtful meteorite.” This term describes, according to the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society, an object for which there was significant uncertainty over whether it was a real meteorite or, in some cases, whether it ever existed. Thanks to the analysis of untapped sources, the first objective of this work is to clarify the nature of the event. Subsequently, the results of the minero‐chemical analyses that were performed, in 1835, on two fragments recovered after the event are discussed for the first time. This work then shows the collecting history of one of the presumed meteorite specimens. Based on the results presented here, this work highlights the role of doubtful meteorites as a fundamental resource for the history of meteoritics and meteorite collecting as well as for studying the processes that have led to the scientific study of meteorites.


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