Pallasite Meteorite Pendant

February 3, 2008

Esquel Pallasite with Native Iron
Pallasite with Terrestrial Native Iron

The top stone on this pendant is a tiny slice of the Esquel pallasite that I bought several years ago.  The other stone is native terrestrial iron from Siberia, which I bought as a small slab and cut to match the pallasite.  Together they are an image of the boundary deep in the earth where the iron-magnesium silicates of the lower mantle give way to the pure nickel-iron of the core.  The iron hook is strung on a leather cord at the moment, but I plan to make a silver and iron chain for it.

Pallasites are rare meteorites that contain glassy transparent pale green or greenish-brown olivine crystals in an iron matrix.  They are some of the most spectacular of all rocks, and probably represent fragments of the interior of an ancient shattered proto-planet.  Each pallasite is unique in appearance.  Some have many olivine crystals, others have very few.  Some have large olivine crystals (the Esquel is especially notable for these) and others have tiny dustlike particles.  The iron matrix may be smooth and shining (as in Esquel) or it may reveal complex interlocking crystal patterns when etched (these are called Widmanstatten patterns, and were first described from meteorites but are also seen in certain steels, such as railroad rail welds).  The drawing below shows a tiny piece of the Imilac pallasite.  This meteorite was found as a few large pieces and many small fragments, most of  them with only the iron “skeleton” holding the remains of highly weathered olivine crystals. 

Imilac Pallasite

The other stone in the pendant is native iron from Siberia.  Pure iron metal is very rare in the earth’s rocks, since iron is unstable when oxygen is present, and usually combines with oxygen, silica, sulfur, and other elements to form many common minerals .  Metallic terrestrial iron is known from only a few localities.  The Siberian iron occurs as irregular blebs in a rock that is made mostly of altered olivine.


One Response to “Pallasite Meteorite Pendant”

  1. judithornot said

    Lorena, you make (and draw!) the most beautiful pieces. I admire your knowledge of ores and stones.

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