The University of Arizona Southwest Meteorite Center

Dedicated to the preservation, curation, and analysis of meteorites, and the promotion of meteorite education

• We have established the Southwest Meteorite Center to preserve the dwindling supply of extraterrestrial materials and to offer alternatives to the current marketing techniques wherein irreplaceable materials are being destroyed.

• History shows that meteorites have always been collected and always will be collected. Private collectors and dealers have made important contributions to meteorite science.

• We hope to address the tensions that currently exist between the commercial and scientific meteorite communities and establish a productive relationship between meteorite scientists, dealers, and collectors.


The worldwide recovery of meteorites is facing a crisis. The current population of meteorites on Earth, which took millions of years to accumulate, is being harvested on the timescale of decades. Without immediate action, a major portion of these samples will be lost to future generations.

Most meteorites are found in arid deserts, where the climate is conducive to their preservation. Saharan meteorites are collected by wandering nomads in the deserts of almost every Saharan country including Mali, Niger, Libya, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia. These specimens are sold to Moroccan traders who sell them to the highest bidder. Commercial dealers are the only individuals with the financial resources to acquire these priceless meteorites.

The preservation of these treasures from outer space requires an organization with the financial resources to acquire and preserve this material while it is still available.

In some cases, the rarest meteorites are compromised in order to obtain the highest dollar value and are lost to science forever. This has led some scientists to show disdain for private collectors and dealers. In order for a meteorite to be recognized by the scientific community, it must be classified and a portion of its mass must be retained in a scientific institution. However, scientific researchers are now overloaded with simply too many meteorites to analyze and classify.

This situation has frustrated many meteorite dealers and collectors, who often have to wait months or years for their samples to be analyzed. This has led many meteorite dealers to bypass the scientific community when naming and distributing meteorites.


We have established an organization that will benefit both the scientific and commercial meteorite communities.

• We will educate future generations of meteorite scientists, dealers, collectors and the general public about the importance of studying and preserving meteorites.

• It is our goal to have the Southwest Meteorite Center become a leader in meteorite research and education.

• We intend to become a world-class meteorite repository and house one of the largest meteorite collections in the world.

• We will curate this material to the highest standards and ensure that it is accessible to both researchers and the general public.

• We aspire to provide rapid and accurate classification of any meteorite sample brought to our center.


• Meteorites are solid bodies that arrive on Earth from outer space

• Meteorites are rarer than diamonds, gold, rubies, and platinum

• Meteorites are culturally important and have played a role in human history

• Meteorites are intrinsically valuable as scientific specimens

• Meteorites are the only samples of asteroids that date back to the early solar system

• Martian meteorites represent the only samples of Mars available for study

• Lunar meteorites come from areas of the Moon not sampled by the Apollo missions

Marvin Killgore, Curator

Introduced to meteorites in 1990, 5 years later, hung up his plumbing license to pursue the business of hunting, buying, selling and trading full time. He has since built a collection that ranks among the world’s largest and most complete. By establishing this center, he is fulfilling his dream of dedicating himself to the full time study of meteorites.

Dante Lauretta, Director

Twelve years ago, Dante Lauretta learned about the importance of meteorites when he decided to research the formation of planetary systems. He decided to establish the Southwest Meteorite Center after he realized that most scientific studies are limited by access to adequate meteorite specimens.


• In order to make our vision a reality, we need the financial support of people like you

• Our goal is to raise ten-million dollars within the next decade to achieve these goals

• This fund will:

- Ensure the financial future of the Southwest Meteorite Center

- Establish an acquisition endowment to purchase representative meteorite specimens

- Support the classification, analysis, and curation of meteorites

- Provide scholarships to graduate and undergraduate students

- Allow us to build a world-class meteorite exhibit for research and public display.

• The University of Arizona Foundation/SWMC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all gifts are fully tax deductible

Contact us now to contribute:

The University of Arizona
Southwest Meteorite Center
1415 N. 6th Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85705

Phone: 520.626.5638

 Click here to contribute