Meteor Crater, Arizona

Did you know there’s a subtle difference between a meteor and a meteorite? A meteor is an object that approaches the Earth from space, but burns up during it’s flight through our atmosphere. If, however, part of that object manages to reach the Earth’s surface, it gets promoted to being a meteorite.

So technically, Meteor Crater in Arizona should be known as Meteorite Crater. Because after visiting it, you’re left in no doubt that something not only reached the surface, it smashed into it! With a capital SMASH!

Approaching Meteor Crater

Approaching Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater was always high on my Bucket List. So seeing it in 2011 was a dream come true.

Me at Meteor Crater

Me at Meteor Crater

If you read my post The Day I Saw A Space Shuttle Launch, you’ll know I’ve always been captivated by anything to do with space. So how could I fail to be impressed by a crater almost 3900 feet in diameter, 570 feet deep, and with a rim that stands 148 feet proud of the surrounding flatlands, produced when an asteroid slammed into the Earth?!

A stitched panorama from the upper observation level

A stitched panorama from the upper observation level

Approximately 50,000 years ago, the Canyon Diablo Meteorite struck what is now the Arizona desert about 27 miles east of Flagstaff. Scientists (who incidentally call Meteor Crater, the Barringer Crater, in honour of Daniel Barringer, who first realised what it was) estimate that the nickel-iron asteroid was roughly 160 feet in diameter and weighed around 300,000 tons when it crashed into what was then a grassland plain.

A brief break in the clouds

A brief break in the clouds

At the time of the collision, the meteorite was travelling somewhere between 28,600 mph and 45,000 mph. It’s sudden stop upon reaching the Earth’s surface released the equivalent energy of a 10 megaton bomb.

Looking down into the crater

Looking down into the crater

Remains of a mining operation in the bottom of the crater - if you look very carefully, you might be able to make out the mock up of a NASA astronaut

Remains of a mining operation in the bottom of the crater – if you look very carefully, you might be able to make out the mock up of a NASA astronaut

The rocks from the point of impact were flipped outwards, such that the normal geological layering is reversed in the crater rim. And in the bottom of the crater, you have to go through 7-800 feet of ruble before reaching relatively undisturbed bedrock.

The outside of the crater rim

The outside of the crater rim

The reversed geology of the crater rim

The reversed geology of the crater rim

Unsurprisingly, the asteroid all but destroyed itself in this inconceivably violent impact. In fact, a large proportion of it simply vaporised! The remaining fragments were scattered over an area at least 5½ miles in diameter. The largest piece of the Canyon Diablo Meteorite recovered so far is known as the Holsinger Meteorite and weighs 1409 pounds.

The Holsinger Meteorite in the Meteor Crater museum

The Holsinger Meteorite in the Meteor Crater museum

Being privately owned, Meteor Crater isn’t eligible to be a United States National Monument. It is, however, classed as a National Natural Landmark, and quite rightly so!

IMG_5403This post was inspired by the theme Broken from Ailsa (of Where’s My Backpack?) and Fly from Sue (of A Word in Your Ear).

If you’re as awestruck as I am by Meteor Crater, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

Jaspa's Journey Logo (Bigger Bucket)

Advertisements

About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
This entry was posted in Adventure, Environment, Jaspa's Journey, Photography, Travel, USA and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Meteor Crater, Arizona

  1. PaigeBrown says:

    My family visited Meteor Crater when I was a kid, and we LOVED it! I would like to go back now that I am more interested in the museum aspect. Thanks for sharing your experience and inspiring a trip back! Cheers!

  2. quattrohands says:

    Thanks for the education. What a place; what an impact!

  3. Pingback: A Word a Week Photography Challenge-Fly | WoollyMuses

  4. Amy says:

    Thank you for showing us the the rock!

I'd love to hear what you've got to say!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s