Meteorite of the month from the KGS collection: the Gibeon meteorite
KGS received this meteorite as part of a donation from the Russell family in 2013. It was one of a large number of meteorites collected by the late William Russell of Goshen, Ky. It is a slice from a large meteorite found in Namibia, Africa, in 1836 and named for the nearest town, Gibeon. Little is known about the discovery of the original meteorite, which had a mass of more than 23,000 kilograms, or almost 52,000 pounds.
The meteorite likely originated in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter during the formation of the early solar nebula, the precursor to the solar system. As planets and asteroids began to coalesce from the material in the solar nebula, these iron-nickel minerals crystalized from early primordial melting to form thousands of asteroids. Slow cooling over long periods allowed the two primary iron minerals, kamacite and taenite, to form interwoven bands known as Widmanstätten patterns, a diagnostic feature common in metallic meteorites.
Dozens of specimens of the original meteorite have been found, and the local residents of the area are reported to have made iron-tipped spears and other weapons from some of the pieces. An Interactive Tour being developed about the collection will include information about the Gibeon. Several other parts of the meteorite are on display in the foyer of the Mining and Mineral Resources Building, where KGS is located. Other specimens are housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Natural History Museum of London, and Italy’s Museo Nazionale dell'Antartide.