I own no land, instead I have wheelestate. I’ve been a full time RVer since 1997. Working summers as a Park Ranger takes me to many beautiful places and playing during the winter takes me to many more. This blog is simply the story of my life's adventures.


Thank you for stopping by. Just to let you know, I'm still blogging but have moved to Geogypsytraveler. Hope you'll follow my adventures. Just click here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meteor Crater Arizona

San Francisco Peaks west of Meteor Crater
50,000 years ago a vast unbroken plain stretched for miles east of Flagstaff. An iron-nickel meteorite weighing several hundred thousand tons and about 150 feet across hurtling at about 26,000 miles per hour slammed into this Arizona plain with an explosive force greater than 20 million tons of TNT. The meteorite disintegrated during impact through vaporization, melting and fragmentation leaving behind a crater 700 feet deep and over 4,000 feet across.

Meteor Crater
In the 1890s the chief geologist of the US Geological Survey concluded the crater was of volcanic origin. This idea held for two decades.

Cross section of Meteor Crater
From 1902 to 1929, Daniel Barringer, a mining engineer who believed that a meteor impact created the crater attempted to find a giant meteorite to mine the iron from. A decade later, and after Daniel’s death, the Barringer family partnered with the surrounding Bar T Bar Ranch and built facilities to provide views of the crater to the public.

Ruins of original visitor center

Raven's nest in old observatory tower
Finally in 1960, Dr. Eugene Shoemaker an astrogeologist, proved that the crater was created by a giant meteor impact. Later Shoemaker and others discovered two new minerals at the crater, coesite and stishovite. Both of these are created under extremely high pressure and had not before been identified in nature. They have now been discovered at other geological features called astroblems.

Current visitor center
Apollo astronauts trained here prior to landing on the moon because of the similar terrain. They learned that ejected material found on the rim often originated below the crater’s surface. In 1968 Meteor Crater was designated a Natural Landmark.

Visitor center courtyard and crater rim trail
Craters are clearly seen on our moon and other planets. Most impact sites on Earth have been leveled by erosion. Meteor Crater is not the largest impact site but is has sustained very little erosion.

The wind was gusting up to 45 miles per hour and the guided mile walk was cancelled. Thank goodness for hand rails on the observation areas or I might have been blown into the crater. You are not allowed to hike into the crater, or gather rocks.

From the brochure: “The vast floor of the Crater is large enough to accommodate 20 football games being played simultaneously as over two million fans watch from the sloping walls of the impact site!”

All the technical information comes from the Meteor Crater brochure, I’m no astrogeologist, yet.

Next stop Walnut Canyon National Monument.


Karen said...

I love your pictures, and I loved my visit to the crater back in 1994. Isn't it just amazing to think of a meteor that big crashing to earth?

Erin said...

excellent tour, and looking forward to our next stop.
take care and have a safe trip

Janie said...

Interesting story on the crater. I think I visited there with my family in the 60's - I know we went to one large meteor crater on the way to the Grand Canyon.
Great photos. Glad you didn't blow away!

Natural Moments said...

Hey, whats with the high winds? Doesn't northern Arizona know its spring time yet. :) oh well, it still looks like a lot of fun. Meteor Crater was a cool place to visit. I would like to visit all of these historical, geological, and natural wonders once again.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

This is wonderful Gaelyn!! When I was there the shuttle was where you are standing against the railing.

Very informative with fantastic pictures as usual. I hope you are thinking of me. :)

I did not think it would still be so cold there. It is funny how the mind always associated the desert with heat and not cold, yet I know it can be FREEZING there in the winter.

Diane C. said...

The clouds look surreal in the first photo and I love the raven's nest in the tower. Fascinating information about the meteor crater!

WishTrish said...

Fabulous post. I blogged about our family's visit there today, and just thought I would peruse the blogosphere in search of others' posts on the same subject. I LOVE your header picture of the Grand Canyon. What a fabulous shot!

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