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One day long ago, a meteor streaked through the sky over central Yukon, coming to rest in a creek bed about 50 km outside the town of Mayo. Made mostly of nickel and iron, with a distinctive vein of troilite, it lay there undisturbed until the summer of 1986, when it turned up in the sluice box of Daniel Sabo, a miner who worked the creek for precious metals.
At the conclusion of an epic court battle that featured dramatic claims about a devious geologist, extraterrestrial life, government conspiracy and the black market in space rocks, the Geological Survey of Canada has been ordered to pay Mr. Sabo $1,000 for failing to return a piece it cut off his meteorite for testing — the very piece Mr. Sabo believes contained living organisms.
As the Court of Appeal for Yukon put it in their new ruling, “There is no dispute that the ‘meteorite’ did develop a green colouration. The only material dispute about the green colouration is whether its origin was extraterrestrial, as Mr. Sabo contended, or terrestrial.”
As it turned out, a lower court judge decided the green stuff was probably lichen or some kind of mineral build-up, and the appeal court has now agreed, but ordered the GSC to pay Mr. Sabo for “wrongfully maintaining” the “off-cut” piece after a particularly nasty meeting in Ottawa.
“It’s the surface formations that made that original meteorite unique. If they remove them, then what I have back is decreased in value. It’s just a meteorite,” Mr. Sabo said in an interview Sunday. “I can’t assess any value until I get everything returned, including the surface formations.”
The meteorite, which weighs 243 grams, is stored at the moment in a Vancouver lab, pending a firm legal resolution. Mr. Sabo, who was self-represented, said he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“I do plan on taking this to the next level,” he said. “It has to do with the conduct of the trial, the actions of the judges.”
After its discovery, the meteorite spent over a decade in Mr. Sabo’s possession, stored in a drawer or on a ledge, and for a time in a felt Crown Royal drawstring bag. He took it to his parents’ place in Arizona, initially intending to sell it, but he later learned this is illegal. He thinks the dry, hot climate of Arizona caused something to change in his space rock, because a green crust grew along a natural seam.
For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/10/yukon-miner-lands-1000-payout-after-geological-survey-of-canada-fails-to-return-piece-of-meteorite-he-discovered/