Unambiguous and reliable meteorite names are indispensable to anyone with an interest in meteorites - citizens, writers, scientists, and collectors alike. Official names are also required in order to publish studies of meteorites in certain journals and meeting proceedings,among them MAPS, GCA, and Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and the abstracts of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conferences, the Goldschmidt Conferences, and the annual meetings of the Meteoritical Society.
The Meteorite Nomenclature Committee (NomCom) is responsible for establishing guidelines for the naming of meteorites, for the approval of new names, for decisions regarding pairing or separation of meteorites previously named, and for dissemination of this information in the Meteoritical Bulletin and the Meteoritical Bulletin Database. The full charter of the NomCom is described in Article 12 of the Bylaws of the Society's Constitution. Members of NomCom consist of twelve society members plus the Vice President of the Society, the Editor of the Meteoritical Bulletin, and the Editor of the Meteoritical Bulletin Database.
The Nomenclature Committee establishes meteorite names according to the Guidelines for Meteorite Nomenclature.
The Nomenclature Committee operates under Rules of Procedure last revised March 15, 2015 at the meeting of the Council held in the Woodlands, Texas.
Guidelines for meteorite nomenclature
The Nomenclature committee of the Meteoritical Society is responsible for the naming of all official meteorites. The committee provides detailed guidelines on meteorite nomenclature for those wishing to report a new meteorite and propose a name.
Meteorite Collection Areas
This is a list of all locations in which meteorites names consist of a geographic prefix plus a sequence number. Also listed are all abbreviations for meteorites that have been used and approved by the Nomenclature Committee in the Meteoritical Bulletin. Examples are given for each meteorite location in order to show the format of the number. If an abbreviation exists, the example shows the proper usage of the abbreviation.
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Procedure for Naming Antarctic Meteorites revised May, 1986
- Numerous meteorites have been collected from restricted areas of the Antarctic continent, and large numbers of new recoveries can be anticipated in the future. Since few locality names are available, and the numbers involved exceed the letters in the alphabet, the normal procedure cannot be applied. The Committee on Meteorite Nomenclature has adopted the following procedure:
- The name of an Antarctic meteorite shall consist of: a geographical locality term; a two digit number specifying the Austral summer season of collection, i.e. the December year of the expedition; a number of two or more digits specific to the individual specimen. This number will continue to refer to the specimen regardless of subsequent pairings or possible pairings. Before publication these numbers shall be approved by the Meteorite Nomenclature Committee. Parts b) and c) of the name shall not be separated by spaces or punctuation marks, but a space should be left after part a).
- Where pairings have been established, and it is required for statistical or other purposed to quote names for Antarctic meteorites as distinct from individual specimens, the lowest specimen number, the most widely studied mass number or the largest mass number may be used for the collective meteorite name. Once approved and accepted by the Committee this set name shall not be changed.
- Names previously applied to existing expedition collections shall not be modified to conform exactly to the above procedure.
- The name of an Antarctic meteorite consists of the complete geographical name together with the numerical code, e.g. Allan Hills 82505 or Yamato 75031.
- (Added August, 2006) Meteorites collected by ANSMET teams and their collaborators between 1976 and 1981 officially have the letter A before their number, e.g., Allan Hills A77307, abbreviated ALHA77307. However, the use of this letter A is henceforth to be considered optional. Thus, Allan Hills 77307, abbreviated ALH 77307, is equally correct and equivalent to the official name and abbreviation.
Categorization of Falls
In 2015, the Meteorite Nomenclature Committee adopted a system for categorizing reports of new falls based on the level of confidence in the account of the recovery. That system is described in this document.
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How to request name certification for a new meteorite from the Nomenclature Committee
Anyone having a meteorite without a name may request a name for it. To do so, certain information must be submitted to the Editor of the Meteoritical Bulletin and a small type specimen must be provided to a well-curated institutional collection with a long-term commitment to curation. Submissions may be made at any time and are reviewed continuously throughout the year. The required template for submission, an Excel file, may be found here. It covers all new meteorites. There is no longer a separate template for NWA meteorites. In case of difficulties with the download, please contact the editor at metbulleditor_at_gmail.com for assistance. Written descriptions of new meteorites are encouraged. However, many descriptions will now only be published online, in the Meteoritical Bulletin Database. At the editor's discretion, some descriptions will be selected for printing in the hardcopy version of the Meteoritical Bulletin. Submission of a written description is mandatory for falls, new types of meteorites and meteorites with anomalous characteristics; it is optional for all other meteorites. In certain cases, the editor may request a written description for a meteorite. Unlike in the past, written descriptions are now submitted using the excel template above. All written descriptions are subject to editing prior to publication in the Meteoritical Bulletin or the Meteoritical Bulletin database. Schedule and deadlines for meteorite name certification The Nomenclature Committee normally needs at least three weeks to process a request for a new name and to communicate the information to the Bulletin. If you have a deadline for a publication that refers to a meteorite that has not yet been named, please submit the needed information to the Bulletin as early as possible and inform the Editor of the deadline. The committee will do its best to help you meet your deadline. For any outstanding issues regarding submissions, please contact the Editor of the Meteoritical Bulletin. Provisional Names Provisional Meteorite Names In dense collection areas for which a numbering system is used to name meteorites (e.g., Dar al Gani, Northwest Africa, Dhofar, Roosevelt County, and many others), names may be assigned to newly collected specimens prior to classification. This may only be done by application to the Nomenclature Committee. Names assigned in this way are considered 'provisional,' which means that the information has not been reviewed or approved by the Committee, and therefore the name cannot be used in publications. Some may not even be real meteorites! Provisional names are included in the Meteoritical Bulletin Database. They are clearly marked as provisional entries and are highlighted in orange. All information associated with these entries, including descriptions, comes from the meteorite collector or dealer who applied to the Committee for the provisional name. How to request provisional names If you need to request provisional names for meteorites, please use the following template: 'Provisional name submission template' (Excel file).