Arizona Crater – the trail of an extraterrestrial visitor. USA

The Arizona crater is the footprint of a giant meteorite. USA

Numerous meteorites have been falling to Earth since long ago. Some of them do not leave any trace, landing smoothly on the surface, such as the famous Goba meteorite in Namibia.

But in the vast majority of cases the fall of a celestial body is accompanied by a crater. One such crater is located in Arizona (USA), 30 kilometers west of the town of Winslow.

Arizona Meteor Crater

Arizona crater on the map

  • Geographical coordinates 35.027729, -111.023100
  • The distance from the U.S. capital of Washington D.C. is a little over 3,000 km in a straight line, or 3,500 km by road
  • The nearest local airport is Winslow about 30 km away
  • The nearest Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is about 200 km or 320 km by road

Arizona’s crater is a classic impact mark from a huge meteorite. It has an almost perfectly round shape with a diameter of about 1200 meters. And its edges rise to a height of 46 meters from the surface.

According to some reports, the crater is 229 meters deep, while according to others it is 174 meters deep. Frankly, we have not been there and, accordingly, we have not measured with rangers or tape measures. Even the Russian and English Wikipedia have different data. It is quite possible that in one case the depth was measured relative to the plain, and in the other case relative to its edges. So the truth is somewhere nearby.

Other names of the crater

There are several known names for this crater.

  • It is the succinct Meteor Crater (which is the name Google Maps knows it by).
  • Devil’s Canyon Crater (in the original Canyon Diablo Crater).
  • Berringer Crater (originally Barringer Crater).

But, still, it is usually called Arizona Crater.

As well as the famous geological formation in Arizona is simply called the Arizona Wave (and on the maps it is marked as “The Wave”). It is located about 220 kilometers to the north.

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When did the meteorite come to Arizona?

Scientists’ estimates about the size of the meteorite itself are mixed. But the data are roughly as follows: The crater was formed about 50,000 years ago by the impact of a meteorite with a diameter of about 50 meters and a mass of 300,000 tons. Its speed was over 40,000 km/h.

Arizona crater

The energy of the explosion according to some estimates is 3 times greater than the Tunguska meteorite. The power of the explosion is thousands of times greater than the infamous atomic bomb dropped by the U.S. on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. There is no exact data, but the power is roughly estimated at 150 megatons in TNT equivalent.

As we said, one of the names of the crater is Berringer Crater, after the man who spent his life proving that it was a meteorite crater and not a volcanic crater, as previously thought.

A little history about the Arizona crater

Such a giant formation, of course, has been known to local Indians since time immemorial. Their legends tell that once upon a time the Fire God himself descended to these places from the heavens on a chariot of fire and left such a huge crater as a memento. This, by the way, indirectly confirms that the crater is really from a meteorite.

The Indians worshipped this place as sacred. They found numerous metal fragments around it, which they used to make amulets. They were believed to protect them from evil forces. The Indians were reverent about these amulets, that even at the burial they used them as one of the main attributes of the ceremony of leaving the deceased in the “Land of the Happy Hunt” (as the Indians called the afterlife).

Scientists did not learn of the crater’s existence until 1891, but thought it was volcanic. Until in 1902, Daniel Moreau Barringer (Daniel Moreau Barringer), a mining engineer, found out about it.

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He is the one who put forward the idea that the crater appeared as a result of the fall of a meteorite. Given the size of the crater and the presence of metal fragments in the vicinity, Berringer suggested that the mass of the meteorite is quite large, and it consists mainly of iron with an admixture of nickel and platinum.

How to sell a meteorite

In those days, 1 ton of iron was worth about $125. Berringer estimates the meteorite could be worth about $1 billion. In 1903, he buys the area where the crater is located and begins excavating.

Daniel spent the rest of his life trying to dig up the meteorite. But, unfortunately, he never reached his goal. Twenty-six years of grueling excavation went in vain. Despite the fact that Berringer was able to dig down to a depth of 419 meters and found around a lot of meteorite fragments, the most important and coveted piece of metal, was not found. Mines and fenced-off excavation sites remain at the bottom of the crater to this day.

Arizona Crater excavations

Today, the Arizona Crater is a famous attraction for the state of Arizona in particular, and the entire country in general. Tourists from all over the world come here all the time. Lookout sites are provided for them.

Arizona Crater. Lookout

To maintain and increase attention to the crater, locals often talk about the appearance of glow (mysterious, of course) above the crater, periodic UFO sightings and geomagnetic anomalies in the crater itself (of course, all with the adjective “mysterious”).

Some experts in the field of parapsychology and parallel worlds claim that the Arizona Crater is a gateway to hell. It is rumored that people periodically disappear around the crater, and some tourists experience unexplained nervous tension, but there is no reliable information on this matter.

Interesting facts about Arizona Crater

Meteorite fragment in Arizona Crater

  • Due to local natural conditions, this crater is preserved as much as possible in its original round shape. It is positioned as “the best preserved meteor crater on Earth.”
  • Berringer initially overestimated the value of the meteorite. He did not take into account the fact that most of it burned up in the atmosphere. He assumed the mass of the meteorite to be about 100 million tons (instead of 300,000 tons), and for the rest of his life he hoped to dig one billion dollars out of the subsoil
  • During Berringer’s lifetime, no one took his claim regarding the origin of the crater seriously. Only after his death, 30 years later, was the renowned meteorite expert Eugene Shoemaker able to provide convincing evidence of the meteoric origin of the crater
  • The Arizona crater was the site of training sessions for U.S. Lunar Program astronauts because it was considered to be the most lunar-like terrain
  • Over the years, tens of tons of meteorite metal fragments have been collected around the crater. In addition to iron, they even contained diamonds, and the largest shard weighed 640 kg
  • the crater is still privately owned by the Berringer family
  • on the edge of the crater is a museum dedicated to the crater itself
  • Because Arizona Crater is beautifully preserved, its views are often used in science films
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Arizona Crater

Arizona crater

Arizona Crater (Meteor Crater, Barringer Crater, Canyon Diablo Crater) – A large meteorite crater (astroblem) in Arizona (USA), 30 km west of Winslow (Winslow) and 69 km east of Flagstaff (Interstate 40, exit 233). It is a giant earthen bowl 1219 meters in diameter, 229 meters deep, and the edge of the crater rises 46 meters above the plain. This crater because of its good preservation is one of the most famous craters on Earth, it is often filmed in science documentaries, in particular Discovery and BBC.

The crater arose about 50,000 years ago after the fall of a 50-meter meteorite, which weighed 300 thousand tons and flew at a speed of 45-60 thousand kilometers per hour. The explosion from the fall was three times more powerful than the Tunguska meteorite explosion and was similar in power to the explosion of 150 million tons of trinitrotoluene or 8000 atomic bombs, similar to those dropped on Hiroshima. Fragments of meteorite nickel-iron have been found in and around the Arizona crater.

History of discovery and research

The location of the crater has long been known to local Indians, who used meteorite metal shards for their own purposes. The local tribes had a huge number of legends and legends associated with this sacred place. Scientists about the existence of the crater became known only since 1891.

Until the early 20th century, it was thought that the crater was of volcanic origin, and only in 1902, a mining engineer from Philadelphia, Daniel Moreau Barringer, hypothesized that this giant crater was formed by a meteorite impact. He purchased a piece of land where the crater was located and quickly began drilling its bottom, as he was convinced that he would find the meteorite itself. Barringer spent 26 years of his life searching for the meteorite and convincing those around him that his crater was of extraterrestrial – meteorite origin.

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The drilling proved futile. Scientists’ estimates, which may have caused Barringer’s fatal heart attack, showed that the meteorite must have evaporated almost completely in the atmosphere when it hit the Earth. Nor did Barringer succeed in unequivocally proving to the scientific community during his lifetime the nature of the crater’s origin.

His services were recognized only thirty years later, when convincing evidence that the crater in Arizona was the result of a meteorite impact was presented by Eugene Shoemaker, one of the world’s greatest experts on comets and meteorites.

Astronaut training in the crater

The Arizona crater was considered to be the place most reminiscent of the lunar landscape on Earth, and it was there, under Shoemaker’s guidance, that all the astronauts who were to go on a mission to the moon underwent part of their training.

Tourism

Arizona Crater is one of the attractions of the state of Arizona. Many tourists visit it daily. To attract tourists, locals regularly report numerous sightings of glowing air and hovering UFOs above the site, as well as mysterious geomagnetic anomalies inside the crater.

A museum stands at the edge of the crater.

Comparison with other meteorite craters on Earth

The meteorite crater in Arizona, often referred to as the Barringer crater in honor of its first explorer, is by no means the largest on Earth. In Antarctica, a meteorite crater with a diameter of about 500 kilometers was discovered under a kilometer thick layer of ice on Wilkes Land in 1962. In Canada, there is a crater 443 kilometers in diameter on the coast of Hudson Bay. However, unlike the largest ones, whose diameter is measured in hundreds of kilometers, the Arizona crater is the only one that has retained its nearly pristine appearance. According to the museum’s official booklet, “Although there are larger impact marks on Earth, the meteorite origin of this crater was the first to be proven, and it has retained its pristine appearance better than any other.”

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