GSI says it is sole agency to research meteorite finds

Asks Tamil Nadu government to report such cases in future

February 10, 2016 01:15 am | Updated November 17, 2021 02:10 am IST - CHENNAI/VELLORE:

The stone-like object recovered from Bharathidasan Engineering College in Natrampalli recently.

The stone-like object recovered from Bharathidasan Engineering College in Natrampalli recently.

>In the wake of two suspected meteorite falls in Vellore district> in the last fortnight, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has written to the State government seeking a direction to all District Collectors that any such cases be reported to GSI and any finds handed over, as it was the only nodal agency authorised to possess and carry out research on meteorites in the country.

“We came across media reports about the two incidents – one on January 26 and another on February 6. Though it is officially not established whether they were cases of meteorites falling, we are not aware who is in possession of the items now. As the GSI is the nodal agency in the country, the respective district administration should alert and hand it over to us,” GSI’s Deputy Director-General S. Raju tol The Hindu . He said suspected meteorite cases have been reported mostly in Vellore and Dharmapuri districts.

“In 2008, a 105-kg meteorite fall was reported in Sulagiri near Krishnagiri; the piece is in the GSI gallery in Kolkata now.”

As per a circular issued September 2013, the GSI is the custodian of all meteorite finds in India and all such falls or finds have to be registered in the National Meteorite Repository of India in GSI, Kolkata. instantly after reportage.

The circular also states that meteorites may be categorised as “contraband items”, entailing a restriction on their free movement both within the country and across the borders. NMRI has over 700 meteorites on display collected from across the country.

IIA team collects object Meanwhile, a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, has taken the stone-like object, which was recovered from Bharathidasan Engineering College, Natrampalli, and soil sample from the site of the college for analysis.

After the second incident on February 6, in which one person was killed and four others injured, police recovered an object resembling a stone and weighing about 10 grams from the college campus. Following this, the Vellore police requested the scientists from of IIA to examine the stone and the site of explosion.

“On Tuesday morning, a team of seven scientists from the IIA visited Natrampalli. The team was led by scientist Muneer. They inspected the college campus, and lifted soil samples for analysis. They have taken the stone for analysis,” said M. Muralidharan, inspector, Natrampalli police station. Till now, the stone was in the possession of the Natrampalli police.

The team also visited Bethaveppampattu in Vaniyambadi where villagers reportedly saw a burning object fall on an agricultural field on January 26. However, they were not able to collect any sample as the field was muddy, police said.

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