About 50,000 years ago, a 45 meter wide iron-nickel meteorite plunged into the desert of Earth's American southwest leaving a scar which still persists to this day. Scientists estimate that the meteor impact packed the energy of 20 million tons of TNT or about the same as a hydrogen bomb! When the meteor slammed into the desert, it punched through the soft limestone sediments before vaporizing. The resulting explosion excavated a classic bowl-shaped crater 1.2 kilometers in diameter and 200 meters deep. House-sized blocks of limestone were thrown clear of the event which left behind an elevated rim.
Arizona Meteor Crater is located near Winslow, Arizona. Also known as the Barringer Meteor Crater, it was first studied by a Philadelphia mining engineer in 1902. Today, Arizona Meteor Crater reminds us of power of extraterrestrial impacts and the possibility of a truly catastrophic event like the one which triggered global mass extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous period. Fortunately, most meteors burn up harmlessly in Earth's atmosphere sometimes producing spectacular meteor showers like the 2001 Leonid Meteor Shower.
The following photo gallery presents images of Arizona Meteor Crater from both the ground and the air.
Click on each image to see a larger photo.
All photographs, text and web pages are © Copyright 2007 by Fred Espenak, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. They may not be reproduced, published, copied or transmitted in any form, including electronically on the Internet or WWW, without written permission of the author. The photos have been digitally watermarked.
The photographs may be licensed for commercial, editorial, and educational use. Contact Espenak (at MrEclipse) for photo use in print, web, video, CD and all other media.
Last revised: 2008 Feb 10