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Treasure hunters push up prices of fallen meteorites

Updated:2018-06-07 10:58:40   chinadaily.com.cn

People look for chondrites (inset) in a sugarcane field in Manlun village in Yunnan province on Monday. [Photo by Dai Zhenhua/For China Daily]

A spike in meteorite prices has turned many local people into treasure hunters after a blazing fireball illuminated the night sky on Friday evening in Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture, Yunnan province.

Videos by witnesses posted online show chondrites - stony nonmetallic meteorites - the size of table tennis balls.

Jiang Wei, a meteorite expert from the China Association for Scientific Expedition, said they found several meteorites in the prefecture's Manlun village, with two crashing through the clay roof of a village house.

He said some of the bigger chondrites weighed 500 to 600 grams.

By Monday night, about 200 chondrites had been found and several have been sent to the Institute of Geology and Geophysics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences for further study.

With scientists and collectors both looking for the difficult-to-find "fallen stones", the price of chondrites has hit 2,000 yuan ($313) a gram.

"The chondrite will provide scientific research value, but should not be taken as a special good that is overpriced in the market," said Zhang Xingxiang, director of Yunnan Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

He said the overpriced chondrites might be a result of speculation - usually a gram of chondrite is priced at no more than 100 yuan.

The local government released a notice on Monday saying that the value of chondrites is for scientific research and the hope of getting rich overnight through collecting chondrites should not be encouraged.

Meteorites are sometimes recovered on the ground after fireball sightings.

Last year in Yunnan's Shangri-La, a meteor shower drove up the price of meteorites on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao.com to as much as 30,000 yuan a gram.

Editor: John Li

Keywords:   meteorites