Every day, the Earth is under threat of invasion – not from little green men in spaceships, but from massive chucks of rock.
Scientists understand that around 40 tonnes of meteoroids hit the Earth's atmosphere daily, with much of it burning up and shooting across the sky as a ball of light. However, not all of these meteoroids burn up, allowing us to bear witness to their destructive potential. A great example of this is in the middle of the Arizona desert – Meteor Crater, a stop with Route 66 Tours.
The story begins 50,000 years ago…
Carbon dating suggests the meteoroid hit the Earth around 50,000 years ago at a speed of 41,000 km/h. In contrast to the dry and barren environment you see today, the desert back then was a lush grassland with mammoths and sloths roaming around. Research adds that the iron meteoroid had already lost about half its size as it came through the atmosphere – showcasing how large it actually was.
As for the measurements, here are the official statistics:
- Diameter – 1.186 kilometres
- Depth – 170 metres
- Impact diameter – 50 metres
- Rise – 45 metres
Over the last 50,000 years, Meteor Crater has been subject to natural erosion including wind and rain. As a result, the height of the rim (rise) is thought to have significantly decreased during this time.
This said, the environment has also had a major positive on Meteor Crater with the climate essentially preserving the site. Sites like this are very rare and highlight the importance of looking after it for the future.
Visiting Meteor Crater
If you think that visiting Meteor Crater is just a hole in the ground, you're in for a real surprise. The site, just minutes from Route 66 and Interstate 40, is home is numerous observation trails, indoor viewing areas, a movie theater, interactive Discovery Center, gift and rock shop, and the Astronaut Memorial Park.
One of the real highlights is the Meteor Crater Interactive Discovery Center where you can relive the impact all those years ago and learn more about the type of meteoroid that collided with the Earth.
Meteor Crater is testament to how powerful forces in our solar system really are and puts in perspective what could happen if another struck – a sight that will never be forgotten.
Keen to explore this amazing natural wonder? Get in touch with the team at Route 66 Tours and book your trip today!