Fukang: The most amazing meteorite on Earth

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
July 18, 2023

When it slammed into the surface of Earth, there was little sign of the beauty that lay inside. But cutting the Fukang meteorite open yielded a breathtaking sight.

The Fukang Meteorite:
Fukang: The most amazing meteorite on Earth 1
The Fukang meteorite found in the mountains near Fukang, China in 2000.

The Fukang meteorite is a meteorite that was found in the mountains near Fukang, China in 2000. It is a pallasite—a type of stony–iron meteorite with olivine crystals. It is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old.

History Of The Fukang Meteorite:

In 2003, near Fukang, China, a Chinese dealer obtained a mass from Xinjiang Province, China, with a weight of 1,003 kilograms. He removed from the main mass about 20 kilograms, and in February 2005, the meteorite was taken to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, where it was seen by Dr. Dante Lauretta, a professor of Planetary Science and Cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona.

Subsequently, the mass was investigated at the Southwest Meteorite Center, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona by Dr. Lauretta and a team of research scientists including Dolores Hill, Marvin Killgore, Daniella DellaGiustina, and Dr. Yulia Goreva, and joined by Dr. Ian Franchi of Open University.

Classification And Composition Of The Fukang Pallasite:

The Fukang pallasite contains large, gem quality olivine, or peridot, in a nickel-iron matrix―nearly fifty/fifty mix of metal and olivine crystals.

Most pallasites have crystals that are dark cloudy and highly fractured. In contrast to this there are a handful that have sparkling clear and less fractured olivines. Fukang is certainly among this handful with large and transparent crystals.

The olivines vary in shape from rounded to angular, many are fractured and they range in size from less than five millimetres to several centimetres.

The main mass contains several regions of massive olivine clusters up to eleven centimetres in diameter with thin metal veins. Fo86.4 with molar Fe/Mg = 0.1367, Fe/Mn = 40.37, and Ni = 0.03 wt%. The metal matrix is mostly kamacite with an average nickel content of 6.98 wt%. Vermicular sulfide (troilite) is present in some olivine. Oxygen isotopes: δ18O 2.569 ‰, δ17O 1.179 ‰, ∆1 7O = −0.157 ‰.

Fukang Meteorite Specimens:

A section weighing 31 kilograms of type specimen is on deposit at the University of Arizona. Marvin Killgore holds an additional section weighing the same amount, as well as the balance of the main mass.

Fukang: The most amazing meteorite on Earth 2
The main mass, viewed from the polished side.

In April 2008, Bonhams offered the main mass for auction at their Manhattan auction. Bonhams expected to fetch 2,000,000 USD, but the lot remained unsold. A “window” area of 19 by 36 inches was cut and polished to provide a view into the gem areas of the meteorite.