A Gibeon Meteorite Sphere; modern cutting
Discovered in Namaland, Namibia, 1836. Re-worked into a sphere more recently.
This sphere reveals in three dimensions the prominent Widmanstätten pattern (i.e., the crystalline intergrowth) that is characteristic of Gibeon specimens, a perspective not available when viewing a flat slab. The Widmanstätten pattern is found only in meteorites; it is a product of the solid-state intergrowth of two different iron-nickel minerals: kamacite (the low-nickel variety) and taenite (the high-nickel variety). The inner core of the Earth is also a big ball of solid iron-nickel (about 2440 km in diameter); if it were cooled, the core would develop a Widmanstätten pattern reminiscent of that of the Gibeon sphere.
1¾in. (4.6 cm.) diam.
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Lot Essay

Gibeon is a spectacular iron meteorite from Namibia. Although familiar to the natives, who had hammered parts of it into metal weapons, the Gibeon meteorite was not known to westerners until about 1836. It is from chemical group IVA. Gibeon crystallized deep in the iron core of a melted asteroid. An enormous impact event later shattered this asteroid and released the Gibeon mass. After travelling through interplanetary space for millions of years, it encountered our planet as a 2–3 meter-wide iron-nickel mass that exploded violently high in the atmosphere thousands of years ago. The curved surface of some of the Gibeon specimens and the distorted Widmanstätten pattern in these regions attest to the catastrophic disruption of the asteroid. After the explosion, iron-meteorite fragments were scattered over a huge region, estimated to be 20,000 sq. km. Gibeon is unusual in comprising individual masses that vary appreciably in shape, from smooth and round to cone-shaped to highly jagged.

Click here to learn more about the science and history of meteorites.

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