Ulster Museum

Seymchan meteorite slice

You can see the Seymchan meteorite slice on the upper level of Window on our World. More meteorites are on display in the Origins gallery of the Nature Zone.

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Rarer than gold

Meteorites are rare and wondrous things, fragments of worlds other than our own.

This is a slice cut from a large pallasite meteorite found near the town of Seymchan in Siberia, Russia. Pallasites are among the rarest of meteorites. They have translucent yellow or green crystals of the gem mineral olivine embedded in nickel-iron metal.

In its raw state a pallasite meteorite is far from attractive. The exterior is blackened by the intense heat of entry through Earth’s atmosphere, or rusted by centuries embedded in soil. But cut into thin slices pallasite meteorites can be stunningly beautiful.

The structure of a pallasite meteorite is unlike anything found on Earth. It perhaps resembles what lies deep beneath our feet. The Earth has an iron core surrounded by a thick layer, the mantle, composed of olivine. Pallasite meteorites come from the core-mantle boundary of a small rocky planet formed early in the solar system. This planet was destroyed long ago by a planetary collision, allowing us a glimpse into the deep interior of another world.

All meteorites are rare. The weight of gold mined on Earth far exceeds the total weight of all meteorites in the world’s collections.