Pallasites 101

Pallasites are a rare type of meteorite classification named for German naturalist Dr. Peter Pallas.  To date 61 individual pallasites have been recorded – 10 of which came to rest on the continent of Antarctica.  What makes pallasites so rare is the combination of their creation and core material (iron-nickel matrix).

There are two predominant scientific theories about the origins of pallasites.  The first holds that the core-mantle bounday of certain planetary bodies was shattered and torn apart due to collision with another planetary body or a group of planetary bodies, such as asteroids.  The second theory expands on the first and theorizes that impacts led to the mixing of core and mantle materials.  This explains the olivine crystalline structure that seems to have been “stirred” into the pallasite’s dense core iron-nickel material.

The following image shows a cross section of the Imilac pallasite, discovered in the Atacama desert in northeastern Chile in 1822.  Note the random mixture of green olivine crystals (mantle materials) among the iron-nickel core material of the pallasite.

_R-IMILAC CROSS SECTION

 

 

 

Additionally, older pallasites will show their age over newer discoveries due to their interaction with our earth’s atmosphere (which is considered “hostile” to objects from outer space).  Weathering, combined with the affect of humidity and pollution will cause the olivine crystals in certain specimens to turn dark over time.  Conversely the olivine “windows” in newly discovered pallasites, for example the Fukang pallasite which landed in China in 2000, will be clearer and less opaque.

Native Textures offers highly collectible specimens of many meteorites and both the Imilac and Fukang pallasites.  Please use the Pallasite Offerings link to the right to access information about both and to see what is currently for sale.

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