Classification of the Kolang Meteorite

The afternoon of August 1, 2020, residents of Sumatra's Central Tapanuli Regency heard loud booming sounds that shook their houses. A single stone weighing over 2 kg (~4.5 lb) went through the roof of a house in the town of Kolang, embedding itself in the soil beside the house. A second stone fell in a rice paddy approximately 2 km away, and two more stones (both ~100 g) were found approximately 8 km away.

J Hutagalung with Kolang meteorite
Finder Josua Hutagalung holds a piece of the Kolang meteorite that fell through his metal roof. Image credit: Josua Hutagalung.
The classification of this new meteorite was performed at the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies by Curator Laurence Garvie, and published in the Meteoritical Bulletin.

MB 109: The interiors of the stones are dark gray to black and sparsely decorated with light-colored speckles, and host common breccia fragments that protrude from the fracture surfaces. One fragment shows a large (3 mm) CAI with a pinkish hue. Three breccia types are visible: hard with conchoidal fracture and lacking or poor in chondrules; chondrule rich; and, greenish gray. Powder XRD shows considerable mineralogical diversity between different areas of matrix and clasts. Representative pieces from the bulk matrix are dominated by serpentine, with medium- to low-intensity reflections for regularly interstratified tochilinite/cronstedtite, tochilinite, calcite, pyrrhotite, and pentlandite. Some areas contain two distinct serpentines with basal spacings of 7.297 and 7.213 Å. BSE images from an ~1.5 × 2 cm fragment from the visually average lithology shows intense brecciation at all magnification scales, but is best described by two end-member petrographies. A) Intensely comminuted consisting of breccia fragments, sparse silicate fragments, and rare recognizable chondrules in a fine-grained matrix that is locally PCP rich. The chondrules and silicate fragments show a range of alteration to hydrous phases and many lack anhydrous silicates. B) Chondrule-rich breccia clast with a matrix dominated by PCP-rich objects. Chondrule mean diameter=125 μm (n=41, range 34 to 291 μm), not including a large 1.5 × 1 mm BO chondrule. Particularly noticeable in hand specimen are sparsely distributed greenish-gray breccia clasts (to 2 cm). Powder XRD shows the clast to be dominated by two serpentines, pyrrhotite, pentlandite, and calcite, and a medium-intensity basal reflection from well-crystallized smectite. Polished mount of this clast shows abundant chondrule pseudomorphs and coarse-grained sulfides.

The main mass is blocky with a flat face and well-developed regmaglypts, and reveals a highly brecciated interior. Fragments crushed with water emit a delicate, earthy smell, though not as persistent or complex as that from Aguas Zarcas or Murchison.

"Kolang is one of the weirdest stones we have", says Garvie. "Part of the difficulty working on it is that it's super brecciated; two pieces can be completely different."

The stone's petrography, oxygen isotope ratios, and olivine compositional range fall within the CM (Mighei group chondrites):

All the oxygen isotopes, except the metal- and chondrule-rich clast, fall within the CM field. The dominant lithology contains areas with chondrules completely replaced by hydrous silicates and intimately associated and mixed with chondrules and olivine fragments partially replaced by hydrous phases (CM1/2), to areas more typical of CM2 meteorites. The bulk mineralogy is largely consistent with CM1 to 2 meteorites

Lath shaped sulfides in a CM1 clast from the CM1/2 Kolang (sample ASU2147_C3c). po = pyrrhotite (Schrader et al, 2021).

A total of four stones weighing ~ 2550 g (5.6 lb) were recovered; the 2100 g main mass, the ~250 g  stone from the rice paddy, a ~100 g (in two pieces), and a ~100 g complete stone (the latter 2 masses were inferred from photos).

Click here to read about Center for Meteorite Studies research on the Kolang meteorite!

Click here to read BBC news coverage of the Kolang meteorite fall, including an interview with Curator Laurence Garvie!

Talampaya

March's Meteorite of the Month is Talampaya, an achondrite that fell in Argentina, in 1995.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 83): 

Stories circulating among meteorite dealers tell of a meteorite that fell in Argentina, producing a sonic boom that scared a mountain climber. The climber eventually found the meteorite somewhere down range. The location of the fall may have been in San Juan or La Rioja province.  One 1421 gram stone was recovered, and sold in the United States.

Talampaya is a cumulate eucrite, and part of the HED (Howardite-Eucrite-Diogenite) meteorite group, believed to have formed on the surface of asteroid 4-Vesta.
Talampaya

Photo © ASU/CMS/Garvie.

Eucrites are the most common type of achondrite meteorite falls (vs. finds) and are believed to have formed from the cooling of magma on the surface of the Asteroid 4-Vesta; the number 4 refers to Vesta being the fourth asteroid ever discovered, in March of 1807, by German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers.

In September 2007, NASA launched the Dawn mission to study Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres to provide insight into the formation and evolution of solid bodies in the early solar system, using a visible camera, a visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer.

Dawn stayed in orbit around Vesta for a year, thoroughly studying the asteroid's geology, chemistry and more; insights gained there helped build the link between Vesta and the howardite-eucrite-diogenite (HED) class of meteorites. 

2021 Nininger Student Travel Award recipients announced

2021 Nininger Student Travel AwardeesThe Center for Meteorite Studies and the School of Earth and Space Exploration are pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Nininger Student Travel Award.
 
This year, the Nininger Student Travel Award will support virtual attendance to the 2021 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) of at least 4 School of Earth and Space Exploration undergraduate and graduate students, to present their latest results in the field of meteoritics and planetary sciences.
 
The awardees are:
Claire Blaske
Claire BlaskeClaire Blaske is an undergraduate in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Her research with Assistant Professor Joseph O'Rourke focuses on the prospects for dynamos in the metallic cores of massive rocky planets. At LPSC, Claire will present her calculations of the critical thresholds at which thermal and chemical convection will occur in the core for a range of planetary masses, thus inferring a planet's ability to produce a dynamo. Dynamos in the cores of planets can produce magnetic fields, so detecting these magnetic fields is perhaps the best way to constrain how fast an exoplanet's deep interior is cooling. Whether a magnetic field reveals anything about a planet's surface and atmosphere is an open question. Her research has shown that, as a planet's mass increases, the likelihood of a dynamo occurring also increases. Massive planets with and without plate tectonics and habitable surfaces (super-Earth and super-Venus planets, respectively) could both have strong magnetic fields.
 
Madison Borrelli
Madison BorrelliMadison Borrelli is a 2nd year PhD student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Her work with Assistant Professor Joseph O'Rourke focuses on volcanic features on Venus. At LPSC, she will present the results from her global survey of lithospheric thickness at steep-sided dome volcanoes. These features, also called "pancake domes", are expected to form where the lithospheric thickness is between 10 and 40 km. However, this hypothesis has not yet been tested. Madison used evidence of lithospheric flexure around the domes to confirm that they are indeed generally found at locations of intermediate elastic thickness.
 
Jasmine Garani
Jasmine GaraniJasmine Garani is a PhD student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration working with Associate Research Professor James Lyons. Her research focuses on understanding the formation of the Solar System, specifically the processes that led to isotopic enrichments seen on Earth and in meteorites. She is mainly focused on nitrogen isotopes, and at LPSC will present an updated solar nebula model with the potential of explaining the 15N enrichments seen in the Solar System today. Her investigation of nitrogen isotopes explores the chemical processes that formed meteoritic amino acids, which also show high enrichments in 15N. Her work has direct implications for understanding the UV radiation environment present during the formation of the Solar System, as well as understanding the reservoir of organic materials available as building blocks of life on early Earth, Venus, and Mars.
 
Kevin Trinh
Kevin TrinhKevin Trinh is a PhD student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration working with Assistant Professor Joseph O'Rourke and Postdoctoral Research Scholar Carver Bierson. His research focuses on the connection between deep interior processes and the potential for life, with an emphasis on icy moons and the use of geochemical models to explore the persistence of habitability in ocean worlds. At LPSC, Kevin will demonstrate that Jupiter's moon, Europa, may have formed its metallic core billions of years after accretion. This challenges the assumption that Europa dehydrated its silicates and possessed a metallic core immediately after accretion, which would result in unrealistically warm thermal histories.
 
Qian Yuan
Qian Yuan
Qian Yuan is a PhD candidate in the School of Earth and Space Exploration working with Assistant Professor Mingming Li, Professor Richard Hervig, and Professor Steven Desch. His primary research goal is to integrate planetary interior dynamics with surface expressions, specifically using computer simulation and thermodynamic modelling to understand the origin of Large Low Shear Velocity provinces (LLSVPs), which are the largest mantle heterogeneities. At LPSC, he and his co-authors will propose a very new origin of the LLSVPs: The Moon-forming Giant Impact. Their research shows that LLSVPs may represent the mantle remnants of the impactor Theia, a large (> Mars-size) planetary embryo that collided with the proto-Earth. Thus, continental-sized LLSVPs may serve as both the largest and oldest “meteorites” on Earth. This study highlights the long-lasting effect of the Giant Impact on Earth’s thermal and chemical evolution, and indicates similar mantle heterogeneities may be formed by a similar process on other terrestrial planets.

Domanitch & Bursa

This February, we feature two Meteorites of the Month.

Domanitch is an (L5) ordinary chondrite that fell in Bursa, Turkey, in 1907, and is the first of two meteorites to have fallen in Bursa; the second being Bursa, an (L6) ordinary chondrite that fell 39 years later, in 1946.

How do we know that Bursa is a distinct meteorite, and not a piece of Domanitch?

Both the Domanitch and Bursa meteorites were witnessed falls, meaning that people saw them entering Earth's atmosphere and the specimens were collected shortly thereafter.

In addition, detailed chemical, microscopic and mineralogical analyses are used to uniquely identify and classify a meteorite, and distinguish between two meteorites that fell in a single area at different times (these same analyses can be used to link specimens of a single meteorite found in separate locations and/or at separate times).

Click here to read more meteorite facts.

Bursa meteorite
Bursa meteorite. Photo ASU/CMS/J. Davidson.

Why did these two meteorites fall in the same place? Do meteorites fall more often in certain parts of the world?

Meteorites can and do hit Earth anytime, anywhere. Meteorites land randomely over Earth's surface, though most fall into the water that covers over 70% of our planet's surface, never to be recovered.

Meteorite falls are more likely to be witnessed in population centers. Of the 144 approved meteorites recovered in India (population density ~1,060/sq mi), for example, only a handful are classified as finds. In contrast, only 16 of the 65 approved meteorites recovered in Canada (population density ~10/sq mi) are classified as witnessed falls.

Click here to read more about meteorite locations.

Domanitch meteorite
Domanitch meteorite. Photo: ASU/CMS/J. Davidson.

Read the Meteoritical Bulletin Database entry for Domanitch, here.

Read the Meteoritical Bulletin Database entry for Bursa, here.

New research on CV and CK meteorite classification

Center for Meteorite Studies alumn Dr. Zachary Torrano, Center Assistant Research Scientist Dr. Jemma Davidson, and former Center Director Prof. Meenakshi Wadhwa are co-authors of a new paper recently published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

The article, “A reclassification of Northwest Africa 2900 from CV3 to CK3 chondrite”, re-evaluates the classification of Northwest Africa (NWA) 2900, a carbonaceous chondrite found in 2004 within the North African Sahara, while also refining the classification criteria for Vigarano-like (CV) and Karoonda-like (CK) carbonaceous chondrite meteorites.

Torrano studied the isotopic compositions of calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) in CV and CK chondrites during his doctoral thesis research at ASU and noticed that one of the meteorites he analyzed may have been misclassified.

NWA 2990 meteorite
NWA 2990 meteorite. Photo: ASU/CMS/Davidson.

“I approached Jemma about investigating the petrology of NWA 2900 in more detail because I knew that she had experience studying CV and CK chondrites,” says Torrano.

As a meteorite petrologist, Davidson's interests include refining the criteria by which chondrites are classified and understanding the differences between groups; she has researched CV and CK chondrites for over a decade. The study was a perfect collaboration of interests and skillset.

“Refining meteorite classifications might seem mundane but it’s actually a very important, fundamental endeavor as meteorite classifications are the foundation upon which sample science studies are built,” says Davidson.   “An inaccurate classification can lead to a cascade of errors further down the line when researchers try to compare the characteristics of different meteorite groups.”

The authors performed detailed examinations of NWA 2900 and compared with data previously reported for CK and CV chondrites. Based on their findings, they propose that NWA 2900 be reclassified as a CK3 chondrite.

“This work not only reclassified NWA 2900, it also provided an updated framework within which future researchers can distinguish between CV and CK chondrites,” says Davidson. “These meteorite groups are very similar and often get mistaken for one another. This study – which builds on decades of prior work by expert petrologists in the field – will be invaluable in helping researchers distinguish between CV and CK chondrites.”

Read the full paper here, and read more about Torrano’s research here.

Read more about Davidson’s research here and here.

Torrano Z. A., Davidson J., and Wadhwa M. (2020) A reclassification of Northwest Africa 2900 from CV3 to CK3 chondrite. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 55(11): 2539–2550. https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13587
 

 

Tishomingo

January's Meteorite of the Month is Tishomingo, an ungrouped iron meteorite found in Johnston County, Oklahoma.

14-year-old Glenn Orr literally stumbled over the meteorite in January of 1965, while bird hunting near the town of Tishomingo. Oscar E. Monnig presented the Tishomingo discovery details at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society, in 1967:

His excavation revealed not one, but two, iron meteorites immediately beneath the surface and in juxtaposition. Unverified weights have been reported as 360 and 214 pounds. Subsequent digging in the "hole" two months later found two smaller pieces of  5-1/2 pounds and 2 pounds, 6 ounces.

A probable fit of the two larger pieces can be made along a concavity where each piece is thinner. The two smaller pieces clearly fit together. There are ways the two pairs could be put together. The case is an interesting one of meteorites which either separated before or immediately upon impact, or have oxidized apart since fall.

Oscar E. Monnig (1967) The Discovery of the Tishomingo, Oklahoma, Siderites. Meteoritics 3, 120.

Tishomingo meteorite

Image: Buckwald, V.~F., Handbook of iron meteorites. Their history, distribution, composition and structure. University of California Press (1975) https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.12232
 
In total, 260 kg (573 lb) of the Tishomingo iron meteorite were recovered.

 

Researcher Spotlight: Devin Schrader

Get to know Center researchers with this periodic feature!

Dr. Devin Schrader is the Interim Director of the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies (CMS) and an Associate Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE). His research focuses on the study of primitive meteorites thDevin Schraderat have remained relatively unaltered since they formed in the early Solar System ~4.5 billion years ago. He also works on samples returned from asteroids, including those returned from asteroid Itokawa by the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA), and is a collaborator on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.
 
Schrader, a native to Arizona, grew up in the boondocks where the night skies were clear and the constellations were rarely obscured.
Photo: D. Schrader.
 
That led to an interest in stars and a love of astronomy. I had a telescope as a kid and would spend hours on the garage roof with it, staring into space. But it wasn’t until grade school, when I was about 12 or 13 years old, that I realized you could hold space rocks in your hand. I was fascinated.
 
Schrader’s fascination with meteorites led him to become a regular visitor to the world-renowned Tucson Gem and Mineral show (held every February in Tucson, Arizona) where he had the chance to see an incredible array of meteorites. Meanwhile, the University of Arizona’s (UA) reputation for astronomy research enticed him to become a Wild Cat while he pursued a double major in Physics and Astronomy.
 
I loved astronomy and thought I wanted to be an astronomer. I was fascinated by meteorites but I didn’t know that studying them was an actual career until I did a NASA Space Grant internship classifying meteorites. That made me realize that I could apply my physics and astronomy background to the study of meteorites.
 
Following rewarding and fascinating internships with both Prof. Dante Lauretta (PI of the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission) at UA and Prof. Harold Connolly Jr. at the American Museum of Natural History, Schrader stayed at UA for graduate school and worked with both Dante and Harold.
 
During grad school, I had the opportunity to work with primitive meteorites, specifically CR chondrites, which represent the earliest stages of our solar system’s history. If you want to understand why our solar system looks like it does today, you have to understand what it formed from. These 4.5 billion year old rocks give us the best opportunity to do that.
 
After graduating with a Ph.D. in 2012, Schrader became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and then the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Schrader worked with Dr. Tim McCoy, the Smithsonian’s Curator of Meteorites; together they provided sample science support for the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.
 
Working with Tim was a dream come true. He’s a leader in his field and I learned a lot from him. Tim encouraged me to diversify and work on a whole range of other meteorite types, including primitive achondrites. We also worked on the OSIRIS-REx mission together – that was a lot of fun. It’s been amazing to watch the mission progress and I can’t wait to see the samples return from asteroid Bennu in 2023.
 
Schrader became a Sun Devil in Summer 2015, when he joined the Center for Meteorite Studies as Assistant Director and Assistant Research Professor; he is now the Interim Director of CMS and an Associate Research Professor.
 
The Center for Meteorite Studies at ASU is an amazing place to work. In the vault, we have meteorites that represent every stage of Solar System history. It’s a researcher’s dream. And we’re ideally situated to interact with the local community through events in the School for Space and Earth Exploration.
Devin SchraderCurrently, Schrader is focused on using isotopic and compositional analyses to determine the chemistry of the protoplanetary disk and trace migration of material in the early Solar System. This recently led Schrader to analyze grains returned from asteroid Itokawa by the Hayabusa mission and he hopes to analyze more returned samples in the coming years.
 
For his contributions to planetary science and the OSIRIS-REx mission, Schrader has an asteroid named after him; you can find his name sake, Asteroid 117581 Devinschrader (2005 EG37), in the asteroid belt.
 
Learn more about Dr. Schrader’s research here: https://meteoriticist.com/
 
Watch a tour of the Meteorite Vault by Dr. Schrader and Dr. Davidson here: https://meteorites.asu.edu/collection
 
In the news:
Fragments of asteroids may have jumped the gap in the early solar system https://meteorites.asu.edu/news/gap
New paper on cosmochemistry advances from Antarctic meteorites! https://meteorites.asu.edu/news/antmet
Acapulcoite-lodranite meteorite group https://meteorites.asu.edu/news/aclo-paper
CR chondrite metamorphism https://meteorites.asu.edu/news/cr-met
Background temperature of the protoplanetary disk https://meteorites.asu.edu/news/new-paper
 
Recent publications:
Schrader D. L., Nagashima K., Davidson J., McCoy T. J., Ogliore R. C., and Fu R. R. (2020) Outward migration of chondrule fragments in the Early Solar System: O-isotopic evidence for rocky material crossing the Jupiter Gap? Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 282, 133–155.
 
Fu R. R., Kehayias P., Weiss B. P., Schrader D. L., Bai X.-N., and Simon J. B. (2020) Weak magnetic fields in the outer solar nebula recorded in CR chondrites. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 125, e2019JE006260.
 
Wadhwa M., McCoy T. J., and Schrader D. L. (2020) Advances in cosmochemistry enabled by Antarctic meteorites. Annual Review in Planetary Science 48, 233–258.
 
Davidson J., Schrader D. L., Alexander C. M. O’D., Nittler L. R., and Bowden R. (2019) Re-examining thermal metamorphism of the Renazzo-like (CR) carbonaceous chondrites: Insights from pristine Miller Range 090657 and shock-heated Graves Nunataks 06100. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 267: 240–256.
 
McCoy T. J., Corrigan C. M., Dickinson T. L., Benedix G. K., Schrader D. L., and Davidson J. (2019) Grove Mountains (GRV) 020043: Insights into acapulcoite-lodranite genesis from the most primitive member. Geochemistry 79(4): 125536.
 
Written by
Dr. Jemma Davidson
Assistant Research Scientist
Center for Meteorite Studies
School of Earth and Space Exploration
Arizona State University

Claxton

December's Meteorite of the Month is Claxton, an (L6) ordinary chondrite that fell in Evans County, Georgia, the evening of December 10th, 1984.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 63):
A grapefruit sized stone, completely covered with thin black fusion crust, fell damaging a metal mail box and making a depression less than 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter in loose dirt. Two persons standing 36 m (39 yards) from where it landed and two others inside a mobile home about 20 m (65 feet) away reported a whistling sound followed by crash and a thud as the stone fell.
 
To date, 1,455 g (~ 3 lb) of the Claxton meteorite have been recovered.
 
In 2007, the mailbox struck by the Claxton meteorite was auctioned by Bonham's London with the following description:
While there have been hundreds of buildings and nearly two dozen cars struck by meteorites, there is only one mailbox known to have received an extraterrestrial special delivery.
 
Claxton mailbox
Staged photo showing original mailbox owner Carutha Barnard on far right and meteorite collector Hal Povenmire holding meteorite; the mailbox was actually torn from the wood post by the meteorite's impact. https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/15648/lot/15

 

Karoonda

November's Meteorite of the Month is Karoonda, a carbonaceous (CK4) chondrite that fell in Australia the night of November 25, 1930.
 
According to a paper describing the meteorite (Mason and Wiik, 1962):
At 10:53 P.M. on November 25, 1930, an extremely brilliant meteor was seen by many observiers in South Australia. A meteorite fell near Karoonda, a small settlement some 75 miles due east of Adelaide. It was found two weeks later in a sandy, fallowed wheat field by a search party from the University of Adelaide and Adelaide Observatory. The meteorite evidently consisted of a single stone which shattered on impact with the ground; some 92 pounds of fragments were collected, the largest weighing 7 pounds.
 
Karoonda is the namesake for the CK group of carbonaceous chondrites, which the Meteoritical Society defines as:
distinguished by abundant fine-grained matrix (~75 vol%), millimeter-sized chondrules that lack igneous rims, relatively few refractory inclusions, and a high degree of oxidation; most CK chondrites have been metamorphosed to type 4 or higher.
 
This piece of the Karoonda meteorite measures approximately 1.5" at its widest point. Photo: ASU/CMS/Schrader.
Karoonda meteorite
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In 1932, a monument was erected at the impact site, commemorating the fall of the Karoonda meteorite.
 
Further reading:
Mason B., and Wiik H. B. (1962) Descriptions of Two Meteorites: Karoonda and Erakot. American Museum Novitates No. 2115. 10pp.
 
Torrano Z. A., Brennecka G. A., Williams C. D., Romaniello S. J., Rai V. K., Hines R. R., and Wadhwa M. (2019) Titanium isotope signatures of calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions from CV and CK chondrites: Implications for early Solar System reservoirs and mixing. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 263: 13-30.