Swiss Twannberg Meteorite at Natural History Museum Vienna

Lifestyle & TravelCulture ♦ Published: October 7, 2020; 11:20 ♦ (Vindobona)

On the occasion of the official visit of the Swiss President of the Council of States Hans Stöckli to Austria, a piece of the Twannberg meteorite was handed over to the Natural History Museum Vienna. The piece that is estimated to be more than 150,000 years old can now be viewed in the Meteorite Hall of the museum.

A piece of the over 150,000 years old Twannberg meteorite that can be found in the NHM Vienna. / Picture: © NHM Wien

The Swiss Confederation handed over a piece of the so-called Twannberg meteorite found north of Lake Biel (in the canton of Bern, Switzerland) to the Natural History Museum Vienna (NHM Vienna).

The donation was made on the occasion of the official visit of the President of the Council of States Hans Stöckli to Austria.

The Twannberg-Meteorit is a rare type of an iron meteorite, which was found near the city of Biel. The first meteorite (with a mass of 15 kg) was discovered there already in 1984 and further pieces were found in 2000, 2005 and 2007.

The Twannberg-Meteorit was torn with its fall about 155.000 to 195.000 years ago in the atmosphere into countless pieces.

Physical investigations indicate that the meteoroid had a diameter of at least four meters, which corresponds to a mass of thousands of tons.

This event can be compared with the spectacular fall of the Chelyabinsk meteorite with a diameter of about 20 meters over Russia on February 15, 2013

"The Twannberg-Meteorit is a very rare type of iron meteorite, which belongs to the chemical group IIG. From the currently 1,255 recognized iron meteorites only five other meteorites like the Twannberg meteorite belong to this special group, a rarity!", confirms Dr. Ludovic Ferrière, curator of the meteorite collection of the NHM Vienna.

Altogether 11 meteorites from Switzerland are known, and the Twannberg-Meteorit is now the third meteorite from Switzerland, which was added to the collection of the Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna.

The new addition to the permanent exhibition in the Vienna Meteorite Hall delights curator Ferrière:

This specimen of the Twannberg meteorite, weighing 370.1 g (dimensions: 8.5 x 5.0 x 4.0 cm), has been preserved in the condition in which it was found: with its natural "rusty" patina. Until now we had only a small piece of this meteorite in the scientific collection, a donation from the year 2019."

The curator is now all the more pleased about the donated specimen.

"The Twannberg meteorite is a very nice addition to the Natural History Museum Vienna, which houses the largest and oldest meteorite collection in the world and shows about 1,100 pieces of it in the display collection to the public", the general manager and scientific director of NHM Vienna, Dr. Katrin Vohland, thanked the President of the Council of States Hans Stöckli for the valuable new addition.

"We would like to thank the entire team of the Permanent Representation of Switzerland to the OSCE, the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, especially its head, Ambassador Wolfgang Amadeus Brülhart, for making this donation possible", affirmed Vohland.

The new piece of the Twannberg Meteorite can be viewed in the Meteorite Hall (in Hall 5 in the central display case No. 109) of the NHM Vienna.