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Zmenj: Rare Cubed

An August 1858 Witnessed Fall: Zmenj, Belarus

Zmenj: Rare Cubed

Zmenj Meteorite

In the classic blending of a howardite, the emerald colored inclusions of diogenite from the asteroidal underworld mingle with the ashen hues of of the eucrite upper class.

It’s tough to know where to start describing the collectable rarity of a meteorite such as Zmenj.

Maybe with the country that it calls home? There are only five documented meteorites from Belarus, a country slightly smaller than Kansas but with three times as many people.

Or maybe with the classification of Zmenj? As a howardite witnessed to fall, it is part of a select group of only 20 stones world wide.

Zmenj Meteorite
From a research article on Zmenj, this sketch map portrays the obvious: Zmenj is a busy mix of surface and subsurface rock likely bourne from a collision deep in space.

Or possibly with the date it fell? The year 1858 is a long time ago. One hundred fifty-three years to be exact. And the 1800s hold only half the total number of witnessed howardite falls reducing the select group to a number countable on your fingers.

Or could it be it’s total known weight? At only 246 grams, there is less than one-quarter of a kilogram ever known, and that number has fallen significantly over the 15 decades that Zmenj walked this planet. So much so that less than one half of the initially reported mass is accounted for in collections according to the Catalogue of Meteorites. The Vienna Museum is listed as containing a 106g piece representing the the main mass of the solo stone of Zmenj that fell to earth. From there the size drops to 25g of Zmenj in Moscow, followed by 6.8g in New York. And that’s it. Period.


Zmenj Meteorite

This face is much darker then the fresher looking one presented above. The light colored matrix has fallen victim to earthly attacks just as the sensual marble expressions in Rome are discolored and dissolved by our ceaseless production of new atmospheric chemicals.

Zmenj Meteorite
The only polished face on my slice of Zmenj is this edge. Some meteorites lose detail under a polish, but I think Zmenj is enhanced, its beauty more clearly differentiated compared to the other weathered face.

In a 1992 research report titled “A Geochemical Study of Russian Eucrites and Howardites” by Lindstrom & Mittlefehldt discussed Zmenj, Yurtuk and Erevan. I addressed the double hammer stone nature of Yurtuk last year in April. I presented the rare cubed Zmenj here. I guess that just leaves Erevan, right?


Until next time….

The Accretion Desk welcomes all comments and feedback. accretiondesk@gmail.com


About the Author

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.