Shepard and the Lion River iron
The next important chapter in the history of the Gibeon iron meteorite was opened in 1853 with the publication of Charles Upham Shepard’s Notice of Lion River, South Africa, Meteoritic Iron. In his work Shepard described the circumstances of the discovery of a 178 lbs mass of meteoritic iron on a clay plain near the Lion River and its subsequent transport by Mr. John Gibbs via ox cart to Cape Town. The meteoritic iron was shipped to London where it was purchased by mineralogist to Queen Victoria, Professor John Tennant, who forwarded it via New York to Professor Charles Shepard of Amherst College in Massachusetts.
Shortly after the meteorite arrived at Amherst College Shepard performed several experiments, determined the Ni content and etched two cut surfaces. Apparently the Lion river mass was the first intact Gibeon meteorite ever, that was scientifically analyzed in the US. Concerning the cut marks on this specimen Shepard quoted the notes of John Gibbs: “The part cut has been done by the Namaquas for fabricating arrow-heads and assagais; the traces of two or three abortive attempts of cutting may also be seen on the surface of the mass.”
Additionally Shepard was the first to comment on the find situation of a Gibeon meteorite which was found on the spot where it fell. He described the clay layer, of which he had received samples, as a “compact and hard marl, penetrated by seams of iron-pyrites, which appear to fill spaces once occupied by fossil shells.
It may be presumed therefore, that it belongs to the tertiary series in geology; and inasmuch as the iron mass presents a perfectly clean, and nearly an unoxidated surface, it is possible that its fall has either been very recent, or that is has until lately been imbedded in this formation, and thus preserved from rusting.”
Brezina, Cohen, Berwerth and the Mukerop iron
In 1902 Aristides Brezina and Emil Cohen gave an extensive description of a 178 kg meteorite which was found in 1899 near Mukerop (Mukorob). After a cast was prepared the meteorite was cut under supervision of Prof. Fraas into a middle section of 16 kg, and two end blocks of 86 and 61 kg respectively. The cut loss was 15 kg. The 16 kg midsection went to the Naturalienkabinett in Stuttgart and onto the tables of the leading contemporary experts on iron meteorites Emil Cohen and Aristides Brezina. Quickly they arrived at the conclusion that the meteoritic iron was paired with the Lion River mass.
After etching the specimen, Brezina noticed that about a third of the cut section produced only a very week Widmanstätten pattern, a fact that he attributed to the thinness of the taenite lamellae and to the homogeneity of the kamazite in this part of the meteorite. As an explanation Brezina and Cohen suggested a slow reheating of the mother body subsequent to its formation and cooling.