Exploring the Southwest! Spring 2009 travel blog

William at Meteor Crater.

Interesting clouds over the desert.

Another interesting cloud.

Crater rim showing heaped up edges... see video for more detail.

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Panoramic view of Meteor Crater.

Meteor Crater in northern Arizona is the largest impact crater on Earth that has survived erosion. This is due to its location in an arid land and its young age. Only 50,000 years ago an iron-nickel meteor traveling at 26,000 miles per hour impacted the flat high planes desert. The explosion was equal to 20 million tons of TNT (a medium sized atomic bomb). Within the span of just a few seconds, 175 million tons of limestone and sandstone were thrown out for miles in all directions. The point of impact and the meteor itself underwent extensive melting and vaporization. The meteor is calculated to have been about 150 feet across (not very big as asteroids and space debris go) and weighed about 200,000 tons. It probably was part of a comet that collided with another comet or asteroid millions of years before. The crater is about a mile across and 700 feet deep. It was used as a training ground for astronauts on the Apollo mission to the moon.

Over the ages since the Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, our planet has been visited by many large meteors. In the beginning when the Earth's surface was still molten and the Solar System was young, the planet was constantly bombarded by massive meteors. About 3.8 billion years ago, one of these about the size of Texas or bigger slammed into the Earth and kicked up debris that has formed our Moon.

For more info and pictures of Meteor Crater, check out www.meteorcrater.com .

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