An Article In Meteorite-Times Magazine
by Tom Phillips
Space Pearls? Space Pearls? OK, it's a stupid name. It is just what I got used to calling them because they seem to be as rare as pearls in oysters.
When I first saw one it was in a slice of JaH 055. I had no idea what it was and I still don't. Micrographs of this first one were published in the February 2005 issue of Meteorite Magazine. Since then, I have always been on the look out for them.
I have found some (apparently) less developed but never an other example so well defined as this first one. however, this week, while examining a group of unclassified Moroccan meteorites, I found one more well defined example. This find gave me the confidence to write this Micro Visions article and ask if any one else has found any.
I have seen a lot of crystal structures in meteorites but these are different. They occur in a field of dissimilar material and seem very out of place. The petrological grade does not seem to have an influence on their presence. The crystals seem to be floating in a lavender matrix of fine grained material. If you see one in person, you don't forget it.
The size is quite small. Just a tiny black dot to the eye. A low power stereo microscope reveals only enough to say "That looks interesting".
I hope to send this latest find to a classification lab and finally get some idea of what they are.
Please email me if you have found any. May be they are not as rare as I am guessing.
This is the first one I found, JaH 055 viewed at 620X in reflected light.
JaH 055 at 1200X.
Finally 1800X. Notice the glassy nature of the crystals and the fine grain matrix.
My latest find in an unclassified Moroccan Meteorite. Same lavender fine grain matrix but these crystals are clear.
This is the 277 gr Meteorite the latest example was found in. The slice is polished to 1/4 micron.
An example of what it looks like under a 15X stereo microscope. Just enough detail to make you want to see more. I should also note, I have slice a number of other paired individuals and have examined many square inches, this is the only one found.
This is a less defined example of this feature. I have found several "Close but no cigar" over the last several years.
What's this? A similar structure found in Santa Vitoria do Palmar (L3). Jeff Hodges spotted this one. While the crystal structure has some similarities, it is a pattern in a black glassy matrix and not exactly like the oddities I have come to call "Space Pearls".
Tom Phillips can be reached by email at:
The Tom Phillips Microscopic Meteorite Photography and Gallery