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Benares (a) meteorite, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 25° 22' North , 82° 55' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): 25.36667,82.91667
Köppen climate type:Csa : Hot-summer Mediterranean climate
Non-native locality type:Meteorite

Ordinary chondrite, (LL4; S4; W0)
Fell, 19 December 1798; 3.7 kg

After the appearance of a luminous meteor and detonations, many stones fell at Krakhut including a 900 g stone which fell through the roof of a home. Many stones were destroyed, but a number of spherical stones covered with a black fusion crust were preserved. The interiors consist of well delineated 'slate gray' chondrules, relict chondrules, chondrule fragments, and opaques within a light gray matrix rich in olivine and orthopyroxene. A few of the larger crystals have become isolated from the chondrules. Olivine composition (Fa28) is uniform, but the low-Ca pyroxene is quite variable (Fs12-24). Fe-Ni metal and troilite are found as polycrystalline grains and as partial rims around chondrule fragments. Olivine grains are fractured and mosaicized consistent with S4 level shock. A cosmic ray exposure (CRE) age of ~16 Ma has been reported for Benares (a). Benares (a) may be one of many LL chondrites (perhaps 1/3rd of all LL chondrites) apparently produced by the catastrophic disruption of a parent asteroid/meteoroid ~15 million years ago.

Historically, Benares (a) was an important meteorite in the story of the scientific acceptance of meteorites as extra-terrestrial objects. In 1802 Edward C. Howard found that the peculiar Ni-bearing iron found in Benares (a) and other meteorites was different from all known sources of natural terrestrial iron. Today, Benares (a) is classified as a member of the LL geochemical group of ordinary chondrites (ordinary chondrites very low in total iron). The LL chondrites are the smallest group of ordinary chondrites (~10% of all fully classified witnessed meteorite falls). The LL4 petrologic type of LL chondrites themselves are relatively rare. Only 7 meteorite falls were classified exactly as an 'LL4' chondrites at the Meteoritical Bulletin Database (as of early 2016). Only the 80 kg Soko-Banja fall of 1877 has had a significantly larger mass. According to the Catalogue of Meteorites (2000) a number of specimens of small and moderate mass are still held by different institutions, but the mislabeling of some specimens suggests that additional caution may be needed in interpreting future studies.

What's in a name? 'Benares (a)' is a well-established witnessed meteorite fall. 'Benares (b)' is the name of a more poorly documented and artificially heated iron meteorite discovered somewhat later in the same region of India.

Mineral List

2 valid minerals.

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Mason, B. (1963) Olivine in ordinary chondrites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 27(9): 1011-1023. (Sept 1963).

Mason, B. (1986) Classification of the Benares Chondrite: Meteoritics 21 (1): 131-132. (Mar 1986).

Burke, J.G. (1986) Cosmic Debris: Meteorites in History. University of California Press: Berkeley; Los Angeles. 441 pages.

Graf, T. & Marti, K. (1994) Collisional records in LL-chondrites. Meteoritics 29(5): 643–648. (Sept 1994).

Grady, M.M. (2000). Catalogue of Meteorites (5/e). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge; New York; Oakleigh; Madrid; Cape Town. 689 pages.

Dunn, T.L., Cressy, G., McSween Jr, H.Y. & McCoy, T.J. (2010) Analysis of ordinary chondrites using powder X-ray diffraction: 1. Modal mineral abundances. Meteoritics & Planetary Science 45(1):123-134. (Jan 2010).

Grady, M.M., Pratesi, G. & Moggi-Cecchi, V. (2015) Atlas of Meteorites. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, United Kingdom. 373 pages.

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