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Kamacite is a mineral. It is an alloy of iron and nickel, usually in the proportions of 90:10 to 95:5 although impurities such as cobalt or carbon may be present. On the surface of Earth, it occurs naturally only in meteorites. It has a metallic lustre, is grey and has no clear cleavage although the structure is isometric-hexoctahedral. Its density is around 8 g/cm³ and its hardness is 4 on the Mohs scale. It is also sometimes called balkeneisen.
The name was coined in 1861 and is derived from the Greek kamask (lath or beam). It is a major constituent of iron meteorites (octahedrite and hexahedrite types). In the octahedrites it is found in bands interleaving with taenite forming Widmanstätten patterns. In hexahedrites, fine parallel lines called Neumann lines are often seen, which are evidence for structural deformation of adjacent kamacite plates due to shock from impacts.
At times kamacite can be found so closely intermixed with taenite that it is difficult to distinguish them visually, forming plessite. The largest documented kamacite crystal measured 92x54x23 cm3.
1. ^ Kamacite Mineral Data
* Mason B., 1962: Meteorites. J. Wiley & Sons, New York