For assistance identifying meteorites:

Meteorite Example

Meteorites that have fallen recently may have a black "ash-like" crust on their surface, like what is shown in the image above. This is because when a meteorite falls through the Earth's atmosphere a very thin layer on the outer surface melts. It is often black and looks like an eggshell coating the rock. However, this crust weathers to a rusty brown color after several years of exposure on the Earth's surface and will eventually disappear altogether. (Information from http://meteorite.unm.edu/meteorites/meteorite-museum/how-id-meteorite/)

 Mineral ID Chart

Above image courtesy of: https://mineralsciences.si.edu/collections/meteorites.htm

 

Additional online resources for visual investigation of meteorites:

http://www.meteorites.com.au/found.html

https://mineralsciences.si.edu/collections/meteorites.htm

http://meteorites.wustl.edu/check-list.htm

For assistance identifying minerals:

The physical properties of minerals (color, hardness, density, etc.) are used to help determine the identity of a specimen. Many of these tests can be performed easily in the field or at home, while others require laboratory equipment. The list of simple tests in a suggested order, progressing from simple experimentation and observation to more complicated either in procedure or concept, can be found here:

http://www.rocksandminerals4u.com/properties_of_minerals.html

Butte, Montana is home to a beautiful mineral museum (http://www.mbmg.mtech.edu/museum/museum.html), which is free to the public (donation encouraged), and is run by a knowledgeable staff who are glad to help with mineral identification. For more information, email John Foley (jfoley@mtech.edu).

 

kyanite in a quartz-rich rock
Above: Beautiful blue crystals of Kyanite in a quartz-rich rock (Archean), Spanish Peaks, Montana

 

sillimanite knubsAbove: Sillimanite "knubs" in high-grade metamorphic rocks, Everest region, Khumbu Himalaya

For assistance identifying fossils:

 http://www.digitalatlasofancientlife.org/updates/