This complete triangular slice features an unusually robust crystalline fingerprint of a Muonionalusta meteorite. Inclusions of graphite-hued troilite that are plentiful in archetypal Muonionalusta specimens are almost entirely absent. As a result, this specimen exhibits the shimmering latticework of its crystalline structure. Modern fashioning.
164 x 191 x 3 mm. (6½ x 7½ x ⅛ in.) and 753.7 g. (1⅔ lbs)
A superior example of Muonionalusta’s crystalline latticework. Muonionalusta meteorites are found near the Muonio River in northern Sweden above the Arctic Circle. While meteorite hunters unearthed numerous masses in recent years, it was in 1906 that children discovered the first Muonionalusta while engaging in a favorite childhood pastime: kicking rocks — and in this instance an unexpectedly dense rock 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 — and it has experienced four different ice ages since then. Despite their age, many specimens exhibit only minor interior weathering due both to the stability of the material as well as being preserved in the deep freeze of the Arctic. When sliced and etched, Muonionalusta showcases its resplendent crystalline structure. Also known as a Widmanstätten pattern, this intergrowth of two iron-nickel minerals, kamacite and taenite, forms an unearthly metallic grid in shimmering shades of gray and silver. It is also diagnostic in the identification of an iron meteorite; these samples, akin to extraterrestrial steel, cooled extremely slowly in their parent asteroids, typically at rates of a few degrees per million years. No man-made steel has a Widmanstätten pattern and none cooled that slowly. Muonionalusta is also the first iron meteorite in which the mineral stishovite was discovered. Stishovite is a rare and extremely hard silicon dioxide polymorph of quartz in which tremendous pressure is essential for it to form: an asteroid impact at hypervelocity was responsible.
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.
Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
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