|Panorama of Meteor Crater|
Click to enlarge this panorama which was stitched together with Photoshop Elements. Viewing platforms are in the foreground. Remnants of mining for the meteorite are still visible at the bottom of the crater. The visitor center is at the far right. Above that in the photo are the trail used for the guided Rim Tour, and a group of people taking that tour.
At first the crater was thought to be of volcanic origin. In 1902 Daniel Moreau Barringer, a mining engineer, became convinced the crater was caused by the impact of a large iron meteorite. He spent the rest of his life mining in the crater in an unsuccessful attempt to find it. According to the excellent museum at the visitor center and their very informative website, he could not find it because it did not exist--it was broken up into tiny pieces:
- Very small percentage stripped away by atmospheric friction before impact
- Very small percentage vaporized upon impact, then recondensed into tiny fragments raining over a 7 mile radius
- About half blasted out upon impart, landing on the rim and surrounding plain
- About half is present in very tiny fragments beneath the crater floor to a depth of 3,000 feet
Barringer did live long enough to see the scientific community start to accept his theory that the crater was formed by a meteorite.
|Meteorite found in Diablo Canyon|
|Strata along the rim|
This photo shows the strata at the rim. Impact craters have been called “nature’s drills” because they sort of invert the strata. Apollo astronauts trained at Meteor Crater under the guidance of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker (part of the team that discovered Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9) because Meteor Crater is so much like craters on the moon. By recognizing impact craters on the moon, the astronauts could collect samples of rocks originally from below the surface without having to drill for them.
|Distant view of Meteor Crater|