An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin, Editor
Damaged Meteorites are Worth a Second Look
Not long ago we acquired some slices of Gibeon that had never been finished and so never etched. The price was, well just let's say really good. We looked at each other and said, "Oh why not." We bought some of them and I had the task of finishing them and etching them. It is a process I really enjoy and we had some Campos and some others to do as well so I made a real project of it over a several night period after work.
As soon as the etching process had barely begun on three of the Gibeon slices I knew something was very different about them. They had seriously altered structure. It was obvious that they had been heat damaged. I began to wonder if that was the reason for the low price we had paid and why that had been left in the unfinished state. Undaunted, I proceeded with the etching and stabilizing and coating of the specimens and offer pictures of two of them here for your enjoyment.
I cannot rule out a hundred percent that they were artificially heated, but it is not my belief that they were. I think this is damage to the Widmanstätten pattern that has been inflicted while in space or during their arrival to our world. The large slice has only a small amount of pattern remaining but it looks like if the slices was wider that the pattern would continue to reemerge. The smaller piece is totally granular in appearance. Yet there is still a very muted something of the pattern still visible. I would have been hard pressed to have declared the larger of the slices Gibeon if it had just been presented to me unnamed. I actually etched the larger slice three times sanded and polished it off twice to try and make the finest job I could do. I adjusted the solution some to really make the surviving pattern bloom. I became fascinated by the piece. I have stretched and twisted Gibeons which show the damage from mechanical activity. These are just as interesting with their thermally induced damage. We're going to keep them around.
It is pure speculation, but I think perhaps a meteorite was cut and some of it was etched. The individual found that it had no pattern or a spotty pattern. They decided to abandoned the slices and move on to a "better" meteorite. If that is the case I really could not be happier. We bought a lot of the slices and only three were damaged. That works out great. I can divert those three to research and the business can still sell the rest which have perfect patterns.
Those of us who have been around this for a while remember the amount of Gibeon material that was on the market eight to ten years ago. Dealers had dozens of individuals from 10 to 200 pounds and the prices were just unbelievable for sculptured beauties. But like all of the irons there are always some that can only be viewed as "space potatos" fit really only for cutting. I think we all thought that there would be Gibeon for a long time. I thought it would be common for a lot longer than it has turned out to be. We don't see many of the Gibeon individuals anymore and the amount of sliced material has really begun to fall off as well. I guess that is part of what makes me so happy to have found these pieces. I think it May be near the end of Gibeon's reign as the common iron. I am glad to have gotten these damaged ones while I still could. I will miss the take for granted that it does not rust image that I have in my mind about this beautiful fine octahedrite. There are a lot of Campos and Canyon Diablo's still and many others but they are all meteorites that you need to worry a little about if you are going to display them. Most of us have never had to stay up nights listening for pops and sputters from our Gibeons.