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Barringer Impact Crater -- Stop 1

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Panoramic photo of Barringer Crater taken from the observation deck near the visitor center
Photo: G. Osinski, University of Western Ontario
Northern rim of the impact crater
Scale: Crater diameter is approximately 1.2 kilometers

Geologist Gordon Osinski talks about Barringer Meteor Crater

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Barringer Crater (also referred to as Meteor Crater) is one of the best preserved and best exposed meteorite impact craters on Earth, which is due to both the prevailing desert environment and its relatively young age - it was formed around than 50,000 years ago, which in geological terms is very recent!

The projectile that formed Barringer Crater was a nickel-iron meteorite approximately 40 meters in diameter. Unlike the majority of impact craters on Earth, hundreds of pieces of the impactor have been recovered from the surrounding ejecta blanket. The largest chunk recovered, known as the Holsinger Fragment, weighs 640 kilograms and is on display in the visitor center. It was named after Samuel Holsinger who was foreman and drill supervisor for Daniel Barringer during the early 1900's.

This nickel-iron meteorite hit the Earth's surface at a speed of between 14 and 20 kilometers per second. The energy released was equivalent to around 2.5 megatons of TNT, which is 150 times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan at the end of World War II. Today, the crater consists of a bowl-shaped depression 1200 meters in diameter and 180 meters deep, which classifies it as a simple crater-- Barringer Crater is very different from the Haughton and Ries impact structures, which are both complex craters.

We're now going to head around the crater rim in a clockwise fashion.


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