Letter | Published:

The Frequency of Meteorite Falls throughout the Ages

Naturevolume 191page482 (1961) | Download Citation



IN a recent article1 Prof. H. Pettersson describes his investigations of samples of deep-sea deposits in which were found metallic spherules, mostly less than 250µ in diameter, to which it is reasonable to ascribe a meteoric origin. These occurred in several geographical regions and in layers of various geological ages, and among the conclusions reached is the following : “In general, the number of spherules is greatest in the more recent sediments. Nevertheless, substantial numbers of spherules were found in layers of Tertiary age : this contradicts the assertion made by some authorities that no meteors fell on the Earth during that time”. A reference identifies the “authorities” mentioned as the late Prof. F. A. Paneth, who, in a paper in Vistas in Astronomy 2, wrote : “The result of our discussion is that glass meteorites fell on our Earth only during the late Tertiary and early Quaternary ; that iron and stone meteorites did not fall before the late Quaternary ; that centuries ago the fall of iron meteorites was a much more common phenomenon than to-day ; and that even since 1800 meteorite falls seem to have become noticeably rarer”.

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  1. 1

    Endeavour, 19, 142 (1960).

  2. 2

    Vistas in Astronomy, 2, 1686 (1956).

  3. 3

    See, for example, The Origin of Meteorites (Halley Lecture, 1940, Clarendon Press, Oxford).

  4. 4

    See, for example, Bernal, J. D., Nature, 190, 129 (1961).

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