Encyclopedia of Geobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel


  • Mark A. Sephton
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9212-1_137


Meteorites are fragments of extraterrestrial material that fall on the Earth’s surface. Most meteorites are parts of asteroids propelled into Earth-crossing orbits by relatively recent collisions in the asteroid belt, initiated by the gravitational effects of Jupiter’s orbit. Relatively small numbers of meteorites originate from larger objects such as the Moon and Mars. The Earth acquires 102 to 103 t of such material each day, but only 1% or less arrives in pieces large enough for identification and recovery (Dodd, 1981). The surface of the meteorite usually melts and emits a glowing tail and a trail of smoke, but the interior of the meteorite is unaffected by passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and remains at the temperature of interplanetary space.

Collection of meteorites

“Falls” are meteorites that have been observed to fall and were subsequently collected; “finds” are meteorites that were not seen to fall. Before the 1970s, the total number of known meteorites...


Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Carbonaceous Chondrite Normal Alkane Nonprotein Amino Acid Interstellar Space 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark A. Sephton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth Science and EngineeringImperial College LondonLondonUK