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Meteor Crater, Arizona

Nature volume 131, page 579 (22 April 1933) | Download Citation



THE Meccano Magazine for March contains an illustrated article on this unique formation. The photographs give a vivid idea of the force of the impact, which shattered the rocks, and forced up great blocks of limestone. Mr. D. M. Barringer has for many years been making efforts to discover the meteor itself. Two vertical shafts were sunk near the centre of the crater, but there was no success, and the work was impeded by the influx of water, which turned the powdered rock-flour into a quicksand. Eventually experiments on the impact of projectiles led to the conclusion that oblique impacts give a nearly circular depression; Mr. Barringer had at first assumed that the meteor would lie under the centre of the pit, but further examination of the shattered rocks suggested that it had come from the north and was likely to lie under the southern edge of the pit. A shaft is now being sunk in undisturbed soil a quarter of a mile to the south of the pit; this will be continued to a depth of some 1,400 ft., and then a horizontal shaft will be run to the north, in the hope of encountering the meteor, which may be either a single great metal mass (in which case it is estimated to weigh some ten million tons) or a compact swarm of smaller masses. There is still some trouble from water, but it is hoped to overcome this by surrounding the shaft with reinforced concrete. Mr. Barringer has now been carrying on his arduous exploration for many years, and certainly deserves success. The article makes some estimates as to the date of the impact; it cannot be less than seven centuries ago, from the evidence of old trees growing on the rim; and it is thought to be less than five thousand years ago, from the fact that little erosion of the scattered blocks has taken place. Also the native Indians have a vague tradition of a fiery descent from heaven. Probably it may be dated between one and two thousand years ago.

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