Lot 18. MUONIONALUSTA METEORITE CRYSTAL BALL — CRYSTALLINE STRUCTURE OF AN IRON METEORITE DRAMATIZED IN THREE DIMENSIONS

Sold: $ 350 000
Auction date: 23.02.2021   10:00 UTC -05:00
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ID 491228
Lot 18 | MUONIONALUSTA METEORITE CRYSTAL BALL — CRYSTALLINE STRUCTURE OF AN IRON METEORITE DRAMATIZED IN THREE DIMENSIONS
Muonionalusta is located in northern Sweden above the Arctic Circle near the Muonio River, for which the meteorite was named. While meteorite hunters have unearthed numerous masses in recent years, it was back in 1906 that children discovered the first Muonionalusta meteorite while engaging in a favorite childhood pastime: kicking rocks. While tending to his herd of cattle, a child unexpectedly struck a heavy object that was later verified to be an iron meteorite.

Muonionalusta meteorites formed deep in the iron core of an asteroid that resided between Mars and Jupiter. An enormous impact event later shattered this asteroid and what was to become the Muonionalusta mass was ejected into interplanetary space. Possessing what is among the highest terrestrial ages of any meteorite, Muonionalusta fell to Earth about one million years ago. Despite its age, many specimens exhibit only minor interior weathering due both to the stability of the material as well as to being kept in the freezer of the Arctic. Muonionalusta specimens are believed to be glacial erratics (material transported by a glacier), and their exposure to churning rocks and ice for tens of thousands of years could account for the smooth surface and prosaic shapes of most specimens. As a result of being in one of Earth's largest rock tumblers, Muonionalusta meteorites were most often rendered unsuitable for exhibit as sculptural forms, and instead have been dissected to reveal their internal splendor in slices, spheres, watch faces and other jewelry.

As the crystalline intergrowth seen does not appear in terrestrial iron ores, its presence is diagnostic for iron meteorites, and pattern variations are frequently indicative of different meteorites. This latticework, referred to as a Widmanstätten pattern,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).

When fashioned into a sphere, Muonionalusta meteorites are able to reveal in three dimensions its prominent crystalline fingerprint in a captivating perspective not available when viewing a flat surface in this mesmerizing and select crystal ball from outer space. Modern fashioning.

Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalogue.


103mm (4 in.) diameter and 4.677 kg (10.3 lbs)

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Preview 09.02.2021 - 23.02.2021
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