Queensland Museum acquires rare meteorite

By Angela Heathcote 22 September 2017
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Initially mistaken for a gold nugget, this rare dendritic trolite-irons meteorite is one of only five specimens known worldwide and it’s the biggest, weighing in at 15.3 kg.

THE QUEENSLAND Museum has acquired a rare dendritic trolite-irons meteorite — one of only 5 specimens known worldwide, and the only specimen known to exist in Australia.

Researchers from the Museum say that this is a rare chance to not only celebrate Queensland’s natural, cultural and geological diversity, but to gain insight into Earth’s evolution.

“Since meteorites were formed at the same time as the planets in the solar system they therefore record in their petrology and mineralogy information about the evolution of these planetary bodies,” Robert Adlard, Acting Director of Collections, Research and Learning at the Museum, told Australian Geographic.

“Because of the rarity of this meteorite it provides opportunities for further research on this class of meteorites. Queensland Museum’s ongoing research on the structure and composition of the meteorite will be of international interest once it is published in scientific journals.”

Robert explained that dendritic troilite-iron meteorites are a small group of meteorites characterised by their sulphide-richness. “The internal structure of dendritic troilite-iron meteorite forms an intricate dendritic branching-like pattern, which is in itself quite attractive,” he said.

Queensland Museum meteorite

(Image Credit: Queensland Museum)

This particular specimen, found near Georgetown in Queensland, weighed in at 15.3 kg when it was first excavated making it the largest ever discovered.

“The gold prospectors initially thought they had discovered a large gold nugget two metres below the surface,” Robert said. “When they realised their find was not gold, they contacted Queensland Museum for assistance with identification.”

After Queensland Museum’s mineralogist Andrew Christy identified the rare meteorite, the Museum immediately began negotiating its purchase for the Museum’s collection.

The estimated worth of the meteorite is $153,000, however the gold prospectors agreed to $100,000 for the sake of keeping the meteorite in Australia.

In a statement yesterday by Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications and Trevor Evans, Minister for the Arts the Government agreed to contributor $50,000 towards the purchase of the meteorite, while the Museum will make up the other half.

The meteorite is currently on display at the Cobb+Co Museum in Toowoomba until 2018.