royal alberta museum
visitors since 1967

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The museum receives many natural and man-made objects which people think are meteorites. Often fused glass or ironstone nodules can be mistaken for a meteorite. Actual meteorites are quite rare; only fourteen are known from Alberta. A number of these have been found by farmers working their fields. Very few meteorites can be connected to a witnessed meteorite fall. You should carefully collect the suspected meteorite and bring it to a museum or university for a confirmed identification. Do not attempt to cut or break the specimen because you may be destroying important scientific evidence about the history of our solar system.

You should bring your specimen to the museum where it can be examined with a microscope. The first step is to determine whether there is gold in the specimen rather than other gold-colored minerals such as pyrite, chalcopyrite or weathered muscovite. These other minerals are often termed "fool's gold." If your specimen is gold, then determining its value is a complex problem. One would need to determine the purity of the gold - most gold is alloyed with silver and to a lesser extent, copper, and how much gold there is in the specimen. If you were thinking of gold value in terms of developing a potential mine you would need to have several samples assayed to determine the grade of the ore (usually in fractions of ounces troy per tonne). The Provincial Museum has neither the specialized equipment nor expertise to do this; the specimen would need to be analyzed by a professional assay company.

Alberta does not have a provincial mineral or a provincial rock but does have a provincial stone (a stone has no precise geological meaning unlike "rock" or "mineral"). Petrified wood was proposed to the government by the lapidary clubs of Alberta. It was accepted and included in the Alberta Emblems Act.