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'The Yenisey began life with a groan and ended with a boldness we could never dream of'
A.P. Chekhov, 1890

Was this 'emerald' brought to Earth 108 years ago by the Tunguska meteor? 

By Olga Gertcyk
04 March 2016

Scientists intrigued over 'space rock' found 35 years ago, before being dumped in a geologist's fish tank.

This sample - and another he picked up - were used as decorations in the family fish tank. Picture: Lidia Korshunova

It is said that emeralds are the sacred stone of the goddess Venus, yet this translucent specimen may also have an exotic origin. Depending on the light, it appears to be green, or blue, or even orange. The seemingly precious stone was found deep in the taiga on a steep grassy bank of the Metlyakovka River that flows into Kan river, in Krasnoyarsk region.

Kanskit


Kanskit


Kanskit

Depending on the light, it appears to be green, or blue, or even orange. Pictures: Lidia Korshunova

Lidiya Korshunova, a historian and geologist, said her husband found it after hiking with friends to mark his birthday three and a half decades ago. The men initially believed his find was 'artificial', some kind of glass, linking it, perhaps, to an abandoned mine nearby. This sample - and another he picked up - were used as decorations in the family fish tank.

It was only much later that Lidiya, after reading the papers of Soviet mineralogist and geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky, she began to suspect her aquarium contained something valuable.

Lidia Korshuova

Lidiya Korshunova, a historian and geologist, was hoping that her husband found an emerald, but her hopes were dashed. Picture: Lidia Korshunova

She learned that the area her husband found the stone was rich in precious stones. 'Emeralds were found here. And that's when I thought that my stone is precious at the very least,' she said. 

She sought out experts in Moscow: but her hopes were dashed. This was not an emerald. More surprisingly, the scientists could not identify what it was.

Map


Map

The seemingly precious stone was found deep in the taiga on a steep grassy bank of the Metlyakovka River that flows into Kan river, in Krasnoyarsk region. Pictures: Google Maps

Analysis of the 'glass stone' found that compared to ordinary bottle glass it was 7.5 times richer in nickel, 6 times in copper, 20 times in zinc, 3 times in cobalt, 3 times in titanium, and 40 times in chrome. As such, it could not be artificial.

Such quantities of minerals have been found in tektites - some of which are also green. These are glassy objects formed as molten debris in meteorite impacts - and scattered widely through the air.

Kanskit


Kanskit

Evidently similar stones - but of a much smaller size - have been found at the epicentre of the Tunguska 'event', which flattened more than 2,000 square kilometres. Pictures: Lidia Korshunova

Renowned Russian scientist, Evgeny Dmitriev, formerly a chief specialist for the Russian Space Agency, suggested that this stone was an orbital travelling companion of the Tunguska meteor which exploded over Siberia on 30 June 1908.

Evidently similar stones - but of a much smaller size - have been found at the epicentre of the Tunguska 'event', which flattened more than 2,000 square kilometres (770 square miles) while causing no known casualties. 

Tunguska event


Tunguska event

The area in the epicetre of Tunguska event as seen by the scientist Evgeny Krinov, member of the Kulik's expedition held in 1929. 

A meteor is believed to have burst some 5 to 10 kilometres above the Earth's surface in what scientists say is the largest 'impact event' on Earth in recorded history, obliterating an estimated 80 million trees. 

The place where the stone is found is some 670 km from the epicentre over Tunguska, also in Krasnoyarsk region. Lidya's stone - now exhibited in the closed town of Zelenogorsk, famous for uranium mining -  where she lives. It is called Kanskit - after the Kan River. 

Comments (7)

Really interesting. I'm amazed at the cool things being found lately (like the opal-bearing meteorite)! Regarding this article, I've collected meteorites for a long time and last year was given two pieces of material from an old time rock collector. He had several more he'd gotten years ago from a Russian selling them as Moldavite. I didn't want to decline his thoughtful gift or tell him he may have been duped, but because of their texture, clarity, and color, I thought instead that they were likely man made. For a laugh, I sent pictures of the pieces to Edwin Thompson (of E.T. Meteorites, a very long time friend and meteorite dealer) as another example of "meteor wrongs". But because they looked remarkably similar to the pictures above, he sent me a link to this article. Now I'm intrigued and will see about having them chemically analyzed at the local university!
S. Brittenham, Boise, ID, USA
03/08/2016 04:07
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0
How extraordinary! What a lucky find! And in the fish tank all those years is amazing. I really must put Siberia in my Bucket List! What a wonderful place Siberia is and how deliciously mysterious...
I remain, Sincerely,
Norma Iris Montalvo (b.1955)
Norma Iris Montalvo (b. 1955), OK, USA
30/03/2016 13:42
2
0
They are very beautiful. I would suggest they be faceted and fashioned into jewelry.
Patrick O'Brien, Anchorage, Alaska
26/03/2016 13:31
1
1
Might the mysterious origin of the so-called "emerald Buddha" of Thailand -- despite its supposed jade composition -- be comparable to that of the Tunguska fragments?
Stuart Smith, Ocala, Florida (USA)
08/03/2016 13:26
7
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Does anyone know the name of the museum where the stone is kept? I have a trip to Russia in May & would like to have a look in person as i have a similar stone but only thumb-size. Thanks
Andy Pham, Hanoi, Vietnam
07/03/2016 20:55
9
0
I agree, what a priceless keepsake indeed. I would love to find such a treasure of nature, be it from our planet or beyond our atmosphere. I would also love to know more about the actual molecular structure from a scientific perspective.
Pamela Tetarenko, League City, USA
06/03/2016 03:29
9
0
Whatever it is - glass, emerald, meteor piece, etc.- it is beautiful! Certainly a priceless keepsake for Lidiya and her husband.
E. Espinosa, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
05/03/2016 11:24
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1

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