Sale 16596
Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites
Online 7 - 14 February 2018

Muonionalusta meteorites were found near the Muonio River in northern Sweden above the Arctic Circle. While meteorite hunters unearthed numerous masses in recent years, it was back in 1906 that children discovered the first Muonionalusta while engaging in a favorite childhood pastime: kicking rocks—and in this instance kicking an unexpectedly dense object later verified to be a meteorite. Possessing what is among the highest terrestrial ages of any meteorite, Muonionalusta fell to Earth about one million years ago when the region was glaciated. Muonionalusta specimens are believed to be glacial erratics (material transported by a glacier), and their exposure to churning rocks and ice for a million years would account for the smooth exterior surface of most specimens. Despite their age, most specimens exhibit only minor interior weathering due to the specimen’s preservation in the deep freeze of the Arctic. For Muonionalustas, it is all about the splendor within; when sliced and fashioned into slices, spheres and cubes, Muonionalusta showcases its internal crystalline latticework. Also known as a Widmanstätten pattern, this intergrowth of two iron-nickel minerals forms an unearthly metallic grid in shimmering shades of gray and silver and is unique to meteorites. Muonionalusta is also the first iron meteorite in which the mineral stishovite was discovered, a rare and extremely hard silicon dioxide polymorph of quartz formed by tremendous shock pressure in which the hypervelocity of an asteroid impact in the depths of interplanetary space is required.

Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalog note.

Conditions of Sale
This lot is offered by Christie's Inc