The Santa Rosa de Viterbo meteorite, Colombia. New work on it’s petrological, geochemical and economical characterization

B. Bsdok, U. Altenberger, A. E. Concha, F. D. H. Wilke, J. G. Gil-Rodríguez

Journal of South American Earth Sciences
In press, journal pre-proof, Available online 22 August 2020.


“Undifferentiated meteorites, like primitive chondrites, can contain presolar and solar nebula materials which would provide information about the origin and initial conditions of the solar system, whereas differentiated meteorites like iron meteorites, can show early phases of planetary accretion. They also provide the possibility to receive information about core properties and planetary bodies. In addition to the gain in such fundamental scientific knowledge both types are of interest for the exploration of critical raw materials (CRMs) and precious elements.

The Santa Rosa de Viterbo meteorite shower, discovered 1810 in the Boyacá province of Colombia, represents a typical iron-nickel meteorite. The present study presents new structural, textural and geochemical results of one fragment of this meteorite, using reflecting microscopy, electron probe micro analyses (EPMA) and electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). The present study presents trace element concentrations of the meteorite’s minerals for the first time.

The sample is dominated by kamacite (α-FeNi). Schreibersite (FeNi3P), taenite (γ-FeNi) and plessite (mixture of kamacite and taenite) are minor constituents. The occurrence of cohenite ((Fe,Ni,Co)3C) and troilite (FeS) are likely. The meteorite sample contains classical Neuman bands passing through kamacite and frequent Widmanstätten pattern. The bandwidth of kamacite defines the meteorite as finest octahedrite. Geochemically, it is characterized as a “Type IC meteorite”.

While improving the characterization and classification of the Santa Rosa de Viterbo Iron Meteorite, notable concentrations of Au (>400 ppm) and Ge (>230 ppm) alongside major elements such as Fe, Ni and Co in the bulk composition of that meteorite, were proven. Major and rock-forming minerals such as kamacite and taenite incorporate hundreds of ppm of Ge whereas schreibersite, itself a minor component in that particular meteorite, is the major source for Au (>1400 ppm). In kamacite and taenite also Ir, Pd and Ga were found in minor amounts. Nano-scale inclusions or atomic clusters called nano-nuggets may have been responsible for the high concentrations of Au, Ir, Pd and Ga. Raman and Laser-induced plasma spectroscopes installed in in space probes seems suitable exploration methods for Fe–Ni meteorites, containing Ni-concentrations > 5.8 wt% defining the meteorite as octaedrites.”