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Oman gets its meteorite back

 Khalfan AL Zaidi


The Sultanate received a historic meteorite found in 1954 in the central desert of the Governorate of Al Wusta, when it was handed over to its embassy in the United Kingdom.

The meteorite sample was carried to the UK then for examination along with others found in the region.

Dr Mohammed Bin Hilal Al Kindi, head of the Geological Consultancy Centre, said that around a century ago, the Arabian Peninsula had witnessed a number of geological surveys as part of oil deposit recovery. Meteorites were among the geological phenomena that the researchers were interested in. In 1954, British oil explorers saw a meteorite in the middle of the desert in Al Wusta when their Land Rover ran over it. Renowned geologist Don Sheridan moved it to Duqm where the oil company had set up camps.

More meteorites were discovered in 1956 and 1958 and were taken to Britain for study.

One of them ended up as an exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London and another was kept at the home of Mike Morton, who was chief geologist of an oil exploration company.

The more than 8-kg meteorite was at Morton’s house for more than 50 years and when he died in 2003, it came into the procession of his wife Heather. When the Museum of Oman started collection of rock samples, geologist Alan Hayward contacted Morton’s family for the treasure. “The response was quick and Heather and son Conton handed over the meteorite to the Sultanate’s Ambassador to the UK HE Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Hinai in my presence and the geologist Alan Hayward,” Al Kindi said.