Viñales is a witnessed meteorite fall, one of the rarest natural phenomena that human beings experience. A bolide – a large meteor or a fireball – was seen falling across the sky over the province of Pinar Del Rió in Cuba on February 1, 2019 at approximately 1:17 pm local time. The meteorite’s fiery entry into Earth’s atmosphere came with several sonic booms and caused the ground to rumble, which led local residents to believe a plane had crashed.
The resulting meteor shower fell on Viñales Valley, a forested area and a UNESCO world heritage site; traditional methods of agriculture have survived there for hundreds of years, along with rich cultural elements like architecture, crafts, and music. Here, local residents and meteorite hunters recovered meteorite individuals that had penetrated the ground, had broken through asphalt roads, or landed on rooftops.
Viñales individuals are notable for their deep black fusion crust; the stones’ light grey interior can be seen where the crust has broken in the meteorites’ traverse through the atmosphere to Earth. Some individuals display reddish smears of laterite clay, a clay-rich in iron and aluminum. When sliced, Viñales exhibits striking, dark shock veins and visible chondrules, melt rock inclusions, and grains of troilite, kamacite, and other minerals. Several specimens were collected for scientific research, leaving plenty of stone individuals available for collectors and enthusiasts who hope to share in the discoveries these analysts are sure to make about this exquisite space rock.