Archive - Meteor Crater Panorama

September 25, 2016


Meteorcraterpanoramasm copy

Each Sunday we present a notable item from our archives. This EPOD was originally published September 10, 2002.

Provided by: Tim Martin, Greensboro Day School
Summary author: Tim Martin

Located about 5 miles (8 km) south of Interstate 40 near Winslow, AZ, Meteor Crater is one of the world’s best-preserved meteor impact sites. Approximately 50,000 years ago, the iron-nickel core of an asteroid impacted Earth. Traveling at a speed near 30,000 mph (48,000 km/hr), the 150 ft (46 m) diameter rock disintegrated on impact with the explosive force of nearly 20 Megatons of TNT (10^17 Joules). The crater created on impact was close to 700 ft (213 m) deep and over 4000 ft (1220 m) in diameter. Over 175 million tons (159 billion kg) of limestone and sandstone were excavated and thrown out of the crater at distances close to 1 mile (1600 m).

Today, the crater remains nearly 550 feet (168 m) deep. (The Washington Monument if built on the crater floor would barely rise above the crater rim.) Originally believed to be a volcanic feature, Daniel Barringer proposed that the crater was an impact site in the early 1900’s. He spent nearly 30 years unsuccessfully mining for the iron meteorite. Evidence of the drilling operation is still visible on the crater floor. The impact origin of the crater was confirmed in the 1960’s through the work of USGS scientist Dr. Eugene Shoemaker.

This image taken from the crater rim is a composite of 5 images stitched together using Nikon panorama software.

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