Details
Similar to lot 34. Pallasitic meteorites are the most beautiful extraterrestrial substance known and represent about 0.2% of all known meteorites. Like all pallasitic meteorites, Seymchan originated at the mantle/core boundary of an asteroid that blasted apart following a cataclysmic collision with another asteroid. The crystals seen here are the result of small chunks of the stony mantle becoming suspended in the molten metal of the core. Cut and polished, the lustrous metallic matrix features crystals of gleaming olivine ranging in hues from emerald to amber. The prominent metallic latticework seen is referred to as a Widmanstätten pattern; it is indicative of a slow cooling rate that provided sufficient time — millions of years — for the two primary alloys to form a structure diagnostic in the identification of an iron meteorite.

It was in the 1960s that the first masses of Seymchan were found in a streambed in a part of Siberia made infamous as the remote location of Stalin’s gulags near the town of Seymchan. Unlike most pallasites (see lot 6) the dispersion of olivine crystals in Seymchan is extremely heterogeneous. Some specimens are olivine rich and some are olivine poor; some specimens have no olivine whatsoever. It is exceedingly rare for the core and mantle constituents of a pallasite to be cleanly bifurcated as seen.

Evoking the contours of a bejeweled chainsaw, this gleaming complete slice contains extraterrestrial olivine and peridot — the birthstone of August. Originating from a shattered asteroid orbiting the Sun between Jupiter and Mars, this is an unusual and compelling presentation.

Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalogue.

323 x 138 x 3mm (12.75 x 5.5 x 0.1 in.) and 321g (0.75 lbs)
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