Alberta man finds meteorite while cleaning gutters

By Laura Krause

Last fall, Edmonton resident Doug Olson says he heard a thud on his roof while he was folding his laundry.

“And all of a sudden I heard a big bang up behind me, and thought ‘did somebody just shoot my roof'” Olson recalled.

Olson checked his roof and yard but found nothing.

Fast forward to this spring. He was cleaning out his eavestroughs when he discovered a black rock.

Olson took the rock to the University of Alberta’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, where he met meteorite expert Chris Herd.

Herd confirmed the rock was indeed from space, and noted it is the first witnessed fall of a meteorite in Alberta since 1977, and one of only 18 ever found in the province.

“This is really rare. This is really like right place, right time, happened to hit the house, which is really, really unusual for any meteorite to hit any structure,” Herd told CityNews.

“There’s a lot of stuff that falls and has never been found, so in this case, right place, right time.”

Doug Olson shows off the meteorite he found while cleaning his gutters. (Laura Krause, CityNews)

Herd says it’s not unusual for the university to get requests to look at rocks that may be from the great beyond.

“We probably get 10-20 inquiries every single week, and probably more after this,” he said.

The meteorite was named Menisa, the neighbourhood it was found in.

“And it’s a Cree word for ‘berries’ so it’s kind of a nice way to acknowledge that part of Edmonton’s history as well,” Herd said.

Piece of the meteorite found in a gutter in an Edmonton home. (Laura Krause, CityNews)

Since the verification, Olson proudly keeps most of “Menisa” in his possession. A small piece was cut off and will remain in the U of A’s Meteorite Collection, with more than 2,000 specimens.

“We have the largest university-based collection in the whole country, thanks to Alberta being a great place to find meteorites, but also because we have expanded the collection in different ways over the years. And that makes for really great opportunities for research and teaching and things on display,” said Herd.

Chris Herd a meteorite expert. (Photo Credit: Laura Krause, CityNews)

Olson says this isn’t the first time he witnessed something fall from the sky. He got his hands on a much larger rock in 2006 near Fort McMurray, which he believes is also from space.

“To me, this fell from the sky. There is no way I can see this thing going through the bush, coming towards me, running it down, hissing, smelling like sulfur. This came from space.”

While it hasn’t been confirmed as a meteorite yet, Olson is prepared to prove his hypothesis.

“There’s only one test left, it’s an oxygen-isotopes test, and I’m still trying to track someone down to complete that test. He said it could be expensive, and to me, I don’t care what it costs, I’m going to pay the money,” Olson said.

“I’m willing to spend thousands to get this verified.”

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