Meteorite, Rock, Mineral or Fossil Identification

Many rocks, minerals and fossils that you find in Missouri are simple to identify.

Please try for yourself before sending an inquiry to us.

Requesting help

Please follow the self-identification resources first.

If you’re still unable to identify a rock, mineral or fossil, contact us.

Self-identification resources

Meteorites

One of the most common questions we get:

“Have I found a meteorite?”

The answer: Unlikely.

Meteorites are extremely rare.

On top of that, Missouri has a humid climate, dense vegetation and diverse seasons. These all work against the meteorite preservation.

Context: Meteorites in Missouri

  • Fewer than 30 meteorites have been found since 1807.
  • Four hundred and sixty-five (465) Missouri residents have won jackpots of $1 million or more since 1987. Thus, 20 times as many people have won $1 million dollars in the Missouri Lottery as have found meteorites in Missouri.
  • On average, you’re eight times more likely to die from a lightning strike in Missouri than to find a meteorite.

This is why we can almost conclusively say that you did not find a meteorite!

Self-test resources

If you’re a hopeless optimist and think you’ve found a meteorite, visit Dr. Randy L. Korotev’s Meteorite or Meteorwrong site.

Rocks, minerals and fossils

You’ve found an interesting rock, mineral or fossil. You’d like some identification help.

We encourage you to review Geology.com first.

The Missouri Geological Survey has a PDF brochure on rocks and minerals.

They also have a rock and mineral resource list with more pictures, descriptions and maps.

Key pointers

Sedimentary rocks underlie most of Missouri.

Unless you found your specimen in the St. Francois Mountains of southeastern Missouri, the red Precambrian igneous rocks on this PDF map, your rock is probably sedimentary.

Glacial erratics are the exception. These occur in northern Missouri where ancient glaciers deposited some igneous and metamorphic rocks eroded from the far northern U.S. and Canada.

The most common sedimentary rocks in Missouri are limestone, its cousin dolostone, also known as dolomite, and sandstone.

Chert is a common mineral associated with limestones and dolostones. Chert, of which flint is one type, is composed of the mineral quartz.

Chert will scratch glass and resist scratching from a steel nail.

Quartz also occurs commonly throughout the state.

Calcite is another common mineral that often occurs as crystals within limestone. Quartz will resist scratching from a steel nail. Steel will easily scratch calcite.


Troubles with identification

Unable to identify a rock, mineral, or fossil? We may be able to help you.

Our geology faculty can identify about 95 percent of the specimens we receive by simply looking at photos.

Send us an email with the following information:

  • Two-to-three well-lit, sharply focused photos showing the specimen from various angles.
    • Include something in your photo that provides scale, such as a coin or ruler.
    • If the specimen has fresh, unweathered faces, include that portion of the specimen in your photo.
  • When and where you found the specimen.
    Be as precise as possible. For example, “At 11 a.m. on June 6. At an outcrop next to U.S. 65 two miles south of the Evans Road exit between Springfield and Ozark.”

Please give us a few weeks to reply.

If you send us dark, unfocused photos or fail to include some context about where and when the specimen was found we will not reply to your request.

Donating and dropping off your specimen

  • Do not drop off your specimen without first emailing us. We will not accept dropped off specimens for identification unless we are unable to identify the specimen through email.
  • We’re happy to accept valuable or rare specimens if you’re willing to donate them to our teaching and research collections. Please submit photos first to determine if we have a need for the possible donations.