SANTA ROSA


Iron, IC, octahedrite
Low Re, Os, and Ir subgroup
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click on photo for a magnified view

Found 1810
5° 55' N., 73° 0' W.

On April 21, 1810 near the Columbian town of Tocavita Hill, Cecilia Corredor was chasing a broody hen searching for her eggs when she discovered a strange-looking iron mass that was cold to the touch (retazosdelavida.blogspot.com, 2020). The 612.5 kg iron meteorite was hauled to the nearby town of Santa Rosa de Viterbo, where in 1818, the blacksmith put it to use as an anvil. In 1823, the Museum of Bogotá purchased the meteorite from Cecilia for 20 piastres (100 francs), and in about 1874, the large iron mass was put on exhibit atop an elaborate stone column in the town plaza (see photo below). Additional smaller masses associated with a common shower were recovered over the following years, including a 100.5 kg mass found in 1942, all having a combined weight of at least 825 kg (V.F. Buchwald, 1975). Although initial analyses were conducted using artificially reheated material, it was ultimately determined that Santa Rosa is a member of the IC chemical group (J. Wasson, 1970).

Santa Rosa Iron Atop Stone Column, Alongside Henry A. Ward
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Photo credit: Henry A. Ward
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Augustus_Ward)

In an effort to gain more factual information about the different iron masses from Columbia, variously named Santa Rosa, Tocavita, and Rasgalla, and to obtain the main mass for a comprehensive scientific study, Prof. Henry A. Ward (1834-1906) traveled to Columbia in the spring of 1906 (Henry A. Ward, 1907; H. Plotkin, 2004 #5038). When he looked out of his hotel window, he was surprised to see the 612.5 kg iron meteorite on reverent display in the town's central plaza. Ward tried to acquire the iron meteorite by negotiating an agreement with the Governor, whereby Ward would erect a statue of the President of Columbia, General Rafael Reyes who was born in Santa Rosa, in exchange for the meteorite. Late one night after hosting a dinner party for the town residents, Ward inlisted the help of 50 soldiers to quietly lower the meteorite from its pedestal and remove it by oxcart. However, before the iron mass could be successfully transferred out of the country, the Chief of the Colombian police seized it, and the Minister of Public Instruction directed that its removal be prohibited. Nevertheless, Ward was able to obtain a 147.5 kg end section, which he subsequently distributed to museums around the world (see Ward's sketch of the sectioned main mass at this link). Tragically, a few months later Henry Ward was struck by a car and killed while crossing Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York, becoming the city's first automobile-related fatality (retazosdelavida.blogspot.com, 2020).

Early descriptions of Santa Rosa published by Cohen, Brezina, and Ward state that it is a polycrystalline octahedrite composed of individual kamacite assemblages measuring 2–3 cm across that exhibit different orientations; this is easily seen in the etched specimen above. Very fine fissures filled with schreibersite separate the individual kamacite areas. Cigar-shaped troilite cylinders with similar length (4–6 cm), width (4–10 mm), and orientation are present in a relatively even distribution of about one per 20 cm² (V.F. Buchwald, 1975). Schreibersite surrounds the troilite along with a thin rim of cohenite. A more in-depth description of the IC irons can be found on the Arispe page.

Highly siderophile element (HSE) data was obtained by Tornabene et al. (2020 #2391) for each of the IC irons. In addition, W and Mo isotopic data was acquired by Tornabene et al. (2021 #1531). It was demonstrated that the members of this group are related through varying degrees of fractional crystallization from a common parental melt, with Arispe being the first to crystallize after ~7% fractional crystallization. A more complex fractionation/mixing scenario for the "low abundance" subgroup (see following paragraph) was presented by Tornabene et al. (2021 #1531). Based on the disparate HSE data, µ182W isotope values, and µ94,95,97Mo isotope values obtained for the two anomalous IC irons, Nocoleche and Winburg, Tornabene et al. (2021) contend that these two meteorites are not members of the IC group and should be reclassified as ungrouped irons.

Tornabene et al. (2020, 2021) determined that IC irons can be divided into two subgroups according to whether they have high or low abundances of Re, Os, and Ir (see diagrams below). It was proposed by Tornabene et al. (2020, 2021 and references therein) that the two subgroups represent mixing between solids and liquids in various stages of evolution following a severe collision. The "high abundance" subgroup could represent mixtures of contemporaneously evolved solids and liquids, while the "low abundance" subgroup could represent mixtures of early-formed solids (after ~1% crystallization) and more evolved liquids persisting after ~13% fractional crystallization, with the assumption that these meteorites are composed of >99% evolved liquid component.

Highly Siderophile Element Data for IC Iron Subgroups
High abundance subgroup: Arispe, Union County, Mount Dooling
Low abundance subgroup: Bendego, Chihuahua City, NWA 2743, St. Francois County, Santa Rosa

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Diagrams credit: Tornabene et al., 51st LPSC, #2391 (2020)

To learn more about the relationship between this and other iron chemical groups, click here. The specimen of Santa Rosa shown above is a 19.8 g etched partial slice. Two different views of the current 411 kg Santa Rosa main mass curated at the National Museum of Columbia are shown below.

Santa Rosa Main Mass, National Museum of Colombia
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Photo credit: Omar Gaona
The Astrolabe, vol. 9, #76-905 (2010)

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Photo credit: retazosdelavida.blogspot.com (2020)