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Meteor Crater (The Barringer Crater), Arizona, USA

July 2nd, 2005 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Meteor Crater (The Barringer Crater), Arizona, USA

The Barringer Crater, more-commonly known as the Meteor Crater, is a famous impact crater created by a meteorite, located about 35 miles or 55 kilometers east of Flagstaff, near Winslow in the northern Arizona desert (USA).

The impact of the meteor with Earth occurred about 50,000 years ago. Currently, the crater is about 1.5 kilometers in diameter (slightly less than a mile), and some 170 meters deep (570 feet). A 30-meter (100-foot) high rim of rock surrounds the crater, distinguishing it from the surrounding plains. The impact happened during the Pleistocene when the climate on the Colorado Plateau was cooler and damper. The area was a grassland dotted with woodlands inhabited by wooly mammoths, giant ground sloths, and camels. No humans would have been anywhere nearby; the first humans are thought to have reached the continent around 13,000 years ago.

The crater was created when an iron-metallic meteor about 50 meters across fell from the sky. For any creatures watching, it would have burned much brighter than the Sun as it fell. Previously, it was thought that the meteor reached 45,000 miles an hour (72,000 km/h) at impact, although the most recent analysis, in the March 10, 2005 edition of Nature, suggests the impact was at 28,600 miles per hour (12 km/s), substantially slower than previously thought, and approximately half of the rock's 300,000-ton mass vaporized during the descent. The impact produced a massive explosion equivalent to at least 2.5 megatons of TNT - equivalent to a large thermonuclear explosion and about 150 times the yield of the atomic bombs used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The explosion dug out 175 million tons of rock and left a crater about 1,200 meters across and 170 meters deep. The shock of impact propagated as a hemispherical shock wave that blasted the rock down and outward from the point of impact, forming the crater. Much more impact energy, equivalent to an estimated 6.5 megatons, was released into the atmosphere and generated a devastating above-ground shockwave.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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