Happy Asteroid Day, and happy Meteor Watch Day! Thousands of years ago, the world-famous Willamette meteorite, traveling some 64,000 kilometers per hour, crashed into Earth’s surface.
Billions of years before that, an early planet orbiting the Sun was shattered, perhaps in a collision with another protoplanet. While planets including Earth gradually formed and matured, the fragment orbited the Sun. Eventually, it landed in Oregon just outside of what is today the city of Portland. Over many centuries, rainwater interacting with its iron sulfide deposits produced sulfuric acid, which slowly etched and carved large cavities.
The Willamette is made of iron and weighs 15.5 tons. It is the largest ever found in the United States and the sixth-largest in the world. Only about 600 of the 25,000 meteorites found on Earth are made of iron. The material was created deep inside stars, which produce energy by fusing lighter elements into heavier ones - for example, hydrogen into helium. The force of nuclear fusion eventually shatters stars much more massive than our Sun, casting fused elements, such as iron, into interstellar space. Over eons, these elements collect inside clouds of gas and dust.
Within such an iron-rich interstellar cloud, our Sun formed 4.5 billion years ago, giving rise to comets, asteroids, planets and all life on Earth. So when we study the Willamette meteorite, we are also studying the chemical record of our origins and our place in the universe.
hello! baby with w/ a question, if you have a minute :) Is there a difference between using sea salt vs regular table salt for protection magics?
You don’t need to spend lots of money and buy fancy-schmancy salt that was collected by flying nuns from a hidden Tibetan monestary on a Friday at noon whilst hopping on one leg and chanting prayers. No matter what name it has and whether it is black, white, pink or grey, use whatever you have in your kitchen cupboard because salt…….is salt.
(Most of the time, I use sea salt specifically because, well, I am a sea witch!)
a Little More Info on Salt
Salt is a crystalline mineral made of two elements, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). Most of the world’s salt is harvested from salt mines or by evaporating sea water or other mineral-rich waters. It is cleansing, purifying and protective.It has a strong female energy, alchemists believed it to be the opposite of sulphur which was the male energy. In European folk magic and Hoodoo (and other paths), it is common practice to sprinkle a pinch of salt in each corner of the room before starting any spell work.
Salt on its own is very protective but mix it with any kind of pepper – black, red or cayenne and you get a much stronger mix.
Salt’s Magical Properties:
Cleansing, purification, protection
Ruling planet – Earth
Element – Earth
Gender – Feminine
There are different types of salt. These are just some of them:
This salt is usually highly refined. It is heavily ground and most of the impurities and trace minerals are removed. Some table salt has added anti-caking agents so that it flows freely, iodine is sometimes added as well. Food-grade table salt is almost pure sodium chloride, or 97% or higher.
Sea salt is made by evaporating sea water. Like table salt, it is mostly just sodium chloride. However, depending on where it is harvested and how it was processed, it usually does contain some amount of trace minerals like potassium, iron and zinc. The darker the sea salt, the higher its concentration of “impurities” and trace nutrients will be. However, keep in mind that due to the pollution of oceans, sea salt can also contain trace amounts of heavy metals like lead.
Himalayan salt is harvested in Pakistan. It is mined from the Khewra Salt Mine, the second largest salt mine in the world. Himalayan salt often contains trace amounts of iron oxide (rust), which gives it a pink color. It does contain small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. It also contains slightly lower amounts of sodium than regular salt.
Kosher salt was originally used for religious purposes. Jewish law required blood to be extracted from meat before it was eaten. Kosher salt has a flaky, coarse structure that is particularly efficient at extracting the blood. The main difference between regular salt and kosher salt is the structure of the flakes which are quite large. There isn’t much difference between table salt and kosher salt other than the size although kosher salt is less likely to contain anti-caking agents or iodine.
Celtic salt is a type of salt that originally became popular in France. It has a greyish colour and also contains a bit of water, which makes it quite moist. Celtic salt contains trace amounts of minerals and is a bit lower in sodium than plain table salt.
Ritual or Witches’ black salt is traditionally used in hoodoo and folk magic for protection and to dispel evil and negative energy. It is a combination of usual salt mixed with charcoal. You can make your own black salt very easily by mixing 2 parts salt with 1 part ash from your fire/fire pit or charcoal if you have some, you can even use black pepper in place of the ash/charcoal.
Black lava salt is black in color and is simply sea salt that is blended with activated charcoal. You may see it labeled as Hawaiian Black Salt.
Indian black salt, or kala namak, is an Indian volcanic rock salt. It is known by many names including Himalayan black salt, sulemani namak, and kala loon. It starts out as Himalayan pink salt or sodium chloride and is then heated to extremely high temperatures and mixed with Indian spices and herbs including the seeds of the harad fruit which contains sulfur. It also contains trace impurities of sulfates, sulfides, iron and magnesium which all contribute to the salt’s color, smell and taste.
Epsom salts are not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Use mixed with essential oils or herbs to create bath salts. Use for beauty products, medicinal and relaxing baths, foot scrubs and cleaning – don’t eat them!
- Spanish pyrites form in nearly perfect cubes with smooth, flat, mirror-like faces.
- Pyrite is quite dense due to the iron content.
- Cubes can grow to be quite large.
- Cubes can be popped out of the matrix very cleanly and loose cubes are very affordable (note that crystals still within the matrix are FAR more valuable)
- Crystals sometimes twin resulting in surreal-looking clusters
- Pyrite contains iron and can rust or develop a dull surface if exposed to liquid. Do not wash with water or any other cleaning or polishing fluid!
- The oils on your hands can also damage pyrite by causing the surface to oxidize. Wear gloves to safely handle crystals or grab specimens by the matrix only.
- Use a bulb blower to blow dust off of specimens and used a dry cleaning cloth to polish crystals.
- Locality of this piece: Ampliación a Victoria Mine, Spain. Spain is the only place on earth where pyrite forms in these iconic cubes!
- Price range: Loose crystals that are without a matrix are very affordable at a range of $5-15. Larger loose crystals will cost more ($50-100). Crystals still within their natural matrix can be quite expensive. Depending on size of the crystals and how many are on the matrix, you can expect to pay $50-200+! Please be aware that many specimens that feature cubes in matrix have been “repaired” meaning that the crystals were glued in place often to make them worth more than they are. Examine pieces carefully before purchasing.
Queensland Museum’s collection of more than 15 million objects and specimens now includes a meteorite so rare it is one of only a handful of known examples worldwide.
Assistant Minister of State Assisting the Premier Jennifer Howard, representing the Premier and Arts Minister Annastacia Palascszuk, said it was a coup for Queensland Museum to obtain this specimen — the largest of its type recognised from Queensland and possibly Australia.
“The significant meteorite, made of nickel-iron alloy and iron sulfide, was discovered by a gold prospector in Far North Queensland,” Ms Howard said.
“They originally thought they had unearthed a very large gold nugget two metres below ground, but this exciting discovery turned out to be something far more valuable for Queensland.
“The Queensland Government is pleased to support Queensland Museum’s purchase of this rare specimen, which will enable the museum’s scientists to perform internationally significant research.”
Queensland Museum’s Acting CEO Dr Jim Thompson said the first solids in the Solar System were small particles which collided and merged to form asteroids.
“Some of these asteroids formed the Earth and other planets, while thousands of tonnes of leftover asteroid fragments hit the Earth as meteorites each year,” Dr Thompson said.
“Iron meteorites are very heavy and believed to come from the cores of broken asteroids.
“When this unique specimen was discovered it weighed 15.3kg and had an outer crust of rust typical for iron meteorites that are attacked by oxygen and water once they reach Earth.
“Meteorites are very rich in scientific value, revealing important information about the history of our universe.”
Queensland Museum Mineralogist Dr Andrew Christy — who is analysing this unique specimen — said the distinctive and special nature of the dendritic iron-troilite meteorite became apparent when the discoverer sawed through its end and exposed a cross-section of fresh metal.
“Most iron meteorites are almost entirely nickel-iron metal alloys with only small amounts of other minerals, however this spectacular specimen features branching crystals of metal — similar in shape to staghorn coral — encased in bronze-coloured iron sulphide,” Dr Christy said.
“Studying this meteorite will ultimately reveal exciting details about how old it is and where it came from, and improve our understanding of how planets such as Earth would have formed from collisions and mergers between smaller bodies in the earliest days of the Solar System.”
This item was purchased with the support of the Australian Government through the National Cultural Heritage Account. The public can now view a section of this meteorite at Cobb+Co Museum until 21 July 2018.
The Scaly-foot Gastropod (Chrysomallon squamiferum)
… is a species of deep-sea hydrothermal-vent snail, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Peltospiridae. This vent-endemic gastropod is known only from deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the Indian Ocean, where it has been found at depths of about 2,400–2,800 m (1.5–1.7 mi).
Chrysomallon squamiferum differs greatly from other deep-sea gastropods, even the closely related neomphalines. The shell is of a unique construction, with three layers; the outer layer consists of iron sulfides, the middle layer is equivalent to the organic periostracum found in other gastropods, and the innermost layer is made of aragonite. The foot is also unusual, being armored with iron-mineralised sclerites…
Life took hold on land 300 million years earlier than thought
Life took hold on land at least as early as 3.2 billion years ago, suggests a study by scientists from Berlin, Potsdam and Jena (Germany).
The team led by Sami Nabhan of the Freie Universität Berlin studied ancient rock formations from South Africa’s Barberton greenstone belt.
These rocks are some of the oldest known on Earth, with their formation dating back to 3.5 billion years.
In a layer that has been dated at 3.22 billion years old, tiny grains of the iron sulfide mineral pyrite were discovered that show telltale signs of microbial activity.
These signs are recorded both in trace element distributions as well as in the ratio between the sulfur isotopes 34S and 32S in the pyrite.
Using instrumentation installed in Potsdam in 2013, the scientists showed that the fraction of 34S in the core of some crystals differ characteristically from that of the same crystal’s rim, indicating that the exterior of the grain involved a processing of sulfur by microbes, so-called biogenic fractionation.
The determination of the 34S/32S ratio, using sample masses less than one billionth of a gram, was carried out at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences by Michael Wiedenbeck of the GFZ’s secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) lab.
The composition of the rock, the shape of the crystals, and the layering visible in the field all indicate that the studied rock sequence was derived from an ancient soil profile; this so-called paleosol developed on a river flood plain 3.22 billion years ago.
Field data collected during this study imply that a braided river system transported the sediment containing the iron sulfide crystals.
It is interpreted that microbes living in the soil, at a level that was continually shifting between wet and dry conditions, subsequently produced the rim overgrowths on the pyrite crystals.
Based on this evidence, the scientists conclude in their publication in the journal Geology that they found evidence for biological activity on land at this very early date.
Their research pushes back the date for the oldest evidence of life on land to some 300 million years earlier than previously documented.