Monday, July 03, 2006

Possible largest pallasite ever found

Newfound meteorite may be among largest. The landowners have dug up several large chunks of what may be the largest pallasite meteorite ever found, and are still extracting pieces and exploring the impact crater with Don Stimpson, a local biophysicist with a yen for meteorite hunting.

Pallasite from Argentina
Stimpson seems hell-bent on boosting Haviland, Kansas' claim to meteorite dominance over that of nearby Greensburg, home of the deepest hand-dug well and a 1,000 pound meteorite.

Various of Haviland's meteorotes will be on display Saturday during the town's meteorite festival.

The festival is the latest spat in an age-old battle between the two towns, but USAToday quoted a Greensburgian last May explaining why they aren't quaking in their boots:
[Richard] Stephenson, who manages the Big Well tourist site in Greensburg, dismisses Haviland's plans. Greensburg, he says, simply has more to offer. "They do not have the Big Well, and there's no way they're going to get it. It doesn't move."
Stimpson was undeterred by Greensburg's unbudging hole in the ground:

Stimpson is less interested in battling over tourist dollars than in sharing the pleasure of holding the heavy orange and brown meteorites.

"It is just a rock, but what's unique about it is how far it's traveled and the knowledge we've gained from it. It's billions of years old. It came from the asteroid belt," he says. "Just holding it — that's the value."
Pallasite is a rock made of peridot in a metallic matrix. When cut and polished they look like stained glass windows. The rock is thought to form in asteroids which had begun to form a differentiated crust and core, early steps in the process of planetary accretion. When these bodies are shattered by impacts, the pieces scatter through space, and some fall to earth. The asteroids in Haviland appear to have fallen about 20,000 years ago after floating in space for billions of years.

Update: Do check the updates on this event. The most comprehensive is from July 5.