(L/LL5 in MetBull)
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Fell June 9, 1866
48° 54' N., 22° 24' E.

Following detonations, a shower of stones numbering more than 1000, and weighing ~500 kg, fell at 5:00 P.M. in the Ukraine, USSR. A strewn field with dimensions of 2 × 0.75 miles was delineated. The nearly spherical mass of Knyahinya had an estimated pre-atmospheric diameter of 90 cm, corresponding to a mass of ~1,300–1,400 kg, before it was broken into two nearly symmetrical sections upon impact; the largest section weighed 293 kg. The CRE age of Knyahinya as inferred from cosmic-ray track data and cosmogenic Ne ratios is 38 m.y. Knyahinya has proven to be instrumental in studies of cosmogenic nuclide production systematics due to its simple single-stage exposure history and its simple shielding geometry, allowing exact depth profiles to be determined.

Although Knyahinya previously had an accepted classification of L5 based on its trace element composition, it was partially resolved into an intermediate L/LL chondrite group based on studies involving the Co abundance in matrix kamacite and on its bulk metallic iron content similar to that of an LL chondrite. Contrariwise, the Ir/Au atomic ratio of Knyahinya falls within the H range (3.4–3.8) rather than the LL–L range (2.6–3.5). Nevertheless, utilizing modern analytical techniques and employing a restored historical thin section of Knyahinya, Kuehner et al. (2021) obtained an updated olivine fayalite value of 24.7–25.1. Based on these data as well as the nature of the chondrules, they have proposed its reclassification to L4.

It was demonstrated by Szurgot (2016) that the mean atomic weight (Amean) of meteorites can be used to resolve the OC groups, including the intermediate groups L/LL and H/L. Amean values can also be predicted through various equations based on other parameters such as atomic Fe/Si ratio, grain density, and magnetic susceptibility, and these Amean values all consistently resolve these groups into the ordered sequence LL < L/LL < L < H/L < H. Knyahinya has Amean values of 23.24 (chemical composition), 23.21 (Fe/Si atomic ratio), and 23.54 (grain density). Furthermore, it was demonstrated that Amean values are lower for unequilibrated type 3 samples than for equilibrated samples within each OC group due to the presence of water; Amean values for petrologic types 4–6 are indistinguishable within each group.

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Diagram credit: M. Szurgot, 47th LPSC, #2180 (2016)
Amean based on chemical composition (Eq. 1), Fe/Si atomic ratio (Eq. 2), and grain density (Eq. 3)

Analyzing the degree of shock in Knyahinya, Fürj et al. (2009) observed mosaicism in olivines and twinning in pyroxenes consistent with a shock stage of S4. The specimen of Knyahinya shown above is a 1.93 g partial slice. The top photo below shows a print depicting the Knyahinya fireball—from a book published in Denmark a few years after the fall (click image for title page). A description posted online: "Mr. Kolbay's drawings of what he and Mr. Rainer saw from near Eperies (today Preŝov, Slovakia), ~92 km from the Knyahinya strewn field, as presented by Wilhelm Ritter von Haidinger in 1866". The next photo below shows the full series of drawings published in the book Sitzungsberichte der mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Classe der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

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click on image to view title page

Photos courtesy of Lars Pedersen

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click on image for a magnified view

Photo courtesy of Jodi Smith

standby for title page photo
click on image for a magnified view

Photo courtesy of Jan Woreczko

The largest mass of Knyahinya, weighing 293 kg, is curated at the Natural History Museum, Vienna.