The Gibeon Meteor
The Gibeon meteor exploded as it fell, scattering meteorites over hundreds of miles in Namibia.
The meteorites hit hard enough to drive deep into the ground. It is hard to say how long ago it fell because geologists measure age by how deeply things are buried. We can tell it was at least 5,000 years ago, maybe as much as 30,000 years ago.
This meteorite is mostly iron, with nickel, cobalt, and phosphorus mixed in. There are also traces of iridium, gallium, and germanium. Iridium is rare on Earth, which proves that this
meteorite is from outer space. The shallow pits on the surface show where metal boiled away as the meteorite fell to Earth.
A meteorite can enter the Earth’s atmosphere at 3,000°F, hot enough to turn iron into gas. Most small meteors will boil away completely. The Gibeon meteor was 9’ by 12’ by 12’, so even after boiling and exploding, there are still a lot of pieces left.
Inside the meteorite, the atoms are arranged in octahedral crystals. These show up as triangles if you cut a slice off the meteorite and polish it. The elements and crystal structure make a flexible, rust-resistant alloy that the people of Namibia have used since prehistoric times.
Exhibit is included with admission.
On loan from the personal collection of Harold Grinspoon.