Geologist wants to examine Falealupo rock

A rock expert who has researched and documented the geological history of Savai’i and Upolu, is interested in examining a rock which a family claims fell from the sky and onto their property in Falealupo, Savai’i.

Warren Jopling who studies the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time, told the Samoa Observer, he “is quite interested” in seeing the rock and determining its composition.  

He said it is highly possible that rock could be a fragment of a falling star (meteorite). 

“Quite frequently, rocks do fall from the sky. You have what you call falling stars. It especially occurs at night. If you look at the heavens, you’ll see one or two very quick streaks,” Mr. Jopling explained.  

“The thing of it is that by the time they get through the atmosphere they are pretty much burnt up. On occasion, there will be one which will come to the earth, mainly formed by the explosion of a star usually.”

The geologist, a native of Australia, is 91 years old, turning 92 this year. 

Mr. Jopling has lived in Samoa for 37 years and authored a geological report for the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.) that explains the formation of the volcanic islands, the lava fields and volcanoes - the natural sites on Upolu and Savai’i.

The report is titled: A Visitors Guide to the Geological History of Samoa and Natural Sites. 

His articles about earthquakes and tsunamis have previously been published in the Observer. 

“No I have not heard about that at all,” he said of the Falealupo rock.

Rocks most prevalent in Samoa are basalt, said Mr. Jopling. 

But meteorites, or falling stars, are composed of iron.

“I would certainly like to see the rock. Volcanic rocks around Samoa, the hard ones, they are basalt...meteorites are made of iron so the weight is considerably greater than basalt,” Mr. Jopling said.

He studied geology in Sydney, Australia and oil explorations in Canada. He has lived and worked in Brazil, Indonesia and Samoa.

A trip to Falealupo would be difficult for the 91-year-old due to health issues, but he says he is hopeful someone can transport the rock to his home at Safua Hotel for closer inspection.  

“I don’t move very much. Is it possible that someone can pick it up and bring it here? It could be a little meteorite but as for being cold I am not too sure about that. I would like to see it,” said Mr. Jopling.  

The family in Falealupo said the rock cracked some volcanic rocks upon impact, when it fell and landed on their property. 

They claim the stone was as cold as a block of ice.

“I have been thinking about the temperature of this rock and they say it was very, very cold and that is possible. 

"A meteorite would burn up when it is passing through the ozone layer - that’s a layer in the stratosphere that filters out all the ultraviolet rays,” Mr. Jopling explained. 

“The atmosphere, the stratosphere cools going upwards when [if it was] a falling star...there probably would be time for it to cool down and become quite cold so I am really interested to see this so I can tell whether it is basalt or iron.”

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