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    Sale 12052

    Science & Natural History

    19 October 2016, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 68

    COMPLETE SLICE OF WILLAMETTE METEORITE

    IRON – IIIAB
    CLACKAMAS COUNTY, OREGON (45°22' N, 122°35' W)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    COMPLETE SLICE OF WILLAMETTE METEORITE
    Iron – IIIAB
    Clackamas County, Oregon (45°22' N, 122°35' W)
    Willamette’s signature recrystallized matrix is contrasted by the smooth, curved rim of the meteorite’s exterior. A nodule of troilite with never before seen metallic embayments is in evidence near the top left.

    119 x 76 x 1mm (4 2/3 x 3 x 1/8 inches)
    80 grams


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    Similar to the previous offering. The 15.5-ton Willamette meteorite is the largest meteorite found in North America and the 6th largest in the world. It is also the most famous: when an image of a meteorite is needed, by far the most frequently used image is that of Willamette. A centrepiece exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the Willamette meteorite has been seen or touched by an estimated 50 million people. This complete slice is from the crown section of the meteorite — and just a couple of inches away from the previous offering. It was the late Dr. Martin Prinz of the AMNH who decided to remove the meteorite’s 13 kg crown section in 1997. This not only provided the public with a window to the meteorite’s unique internal matrix, it also allowed scientists to study the specimen and piece together its unique formation history. When only one meteorite is recovered and no additional specimens exist from the same event, meteorites should always be subdivided — and Prinz’s decision to cut the meteorite proved spot-on despite the criticism encountered. After Prinz passed away, an unusual feature seen on the meteorite’s cut surface by a layperson was brought to Dr. John Wasson’s attention. Wasson, an internationally renowned expert on iron meteorites at UCLA found the new presentation fascinating. “We cannot remember having seen angular FeS fragments entrained into a eutectic melt before.” In a paper published in December 2015 in Meteoritics and Planetary Science, the most important journal devoted to the science of meteorites, a team of researchers led by Wasson’s colleague, Dr. Alan Rubin, makes a compelling case for the reclassification of what may be the most famous meteorite in the world. While there is an agreement between the American Museum and Oregonian Native Americans that the Willamette meteorite will never again be cut, science was served. Now offered is one of the few complete slices of Willamette which will ever exist — and one of only a handful that feature the exotic new anomaly reported.

    Special Notice

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    Provenance

    American Museum of Natural History, New York City