A Grand Meteorite from a Grand House

 

The Grand Meteorite.
At over 1500kg, the only thing more impressive than the residents of Casas Grandes moving the meteorite is the reason why they did it. However, that missing link of information can only be speculated upon.

Of note on this slice are 1) the obvious specimen number painted on an external (aka crusted) edge, and the border where the etch is lighter. A common practice in the past was to mask the rim of a slice so the intended etching was encircled with unetched or lightly etched surface.

The specimen identification number painted on this slice is from the Helsinki Museum in Finland. The style of a blue background with white digits is like a fingerprint. No mistaking where this slice spent time.

A painted specimen number is made even better when it comes with the appropriate paperwork. In this case, a nicely printed specimen card with matching ID number provides a deeper collection context rarely available these days.

A historical image taken from Tassin’s article. The large etched slice of Casas Grandes highlights a wonderful world the original finders of this iron could never even dream of.

Two more views of my etched slice showing both sides. The fully etched side, in my opinion, was etched much later than the side containing the rimming. You can easily see the difference in etch quality as well. The longer the acid remains on the slice, the deeper and more contrasty the etch. But passing a theoretical point of no return, you can ruin a perfectly good slice by dissolving away too much material.

It’s fun to consider what was going through the minds of the ancients who first brought this massive iron into captivity. Even though we are many centuries away from the people of Casas Grandes, the iron meteorite that bears the same name is a showpiece in the Smithsonian’s museum display ogled by thousands of people each year. So as we move together into yet another year, take a moment to say thanks to those who walked before us preserving the magical stones and irons we so love. If it weren’t for their dedication and sacrifice, so much of what inspires us today would be lost forever.

Until next time.

About the Author

Martin Horejsi
Dr. Martin Horejsi is a Professor of Instructional Technology and Science Education at The University of Montana. A long-time meteorite collector and writer, before publishing his column The Accretion Desk in The Meteorite Times, he contributed often and wrote the column From The Strewnfields in Meteorite Magazine. Horejsi is currently a monthly columnist in The Science Teacher, a journal by the National Science Teachers Association. Horejsi specializes in the collection and study of historic witnessed fall meteorites with the older, smaller, and rarer the better. Although his meteorite collection once numbered over a thousand pieces with near that many different locations, several large trades and sales have streamlined the collection to about 250 locations with all but 10 being important witnessed falls. Many of the significant specimens in Horejsi's collection are historic witnessed falls that once occupied prominence in the meteorite collections of Robert A. Haag, James Schwade, and Michael Farmer. Other important specimens were acquired through institutional trades including those from The Smithsonian Institution, Arizona State University, and other universities.
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