Texas Celestial Series #3 - Meteor LbNA # 23970 (ARCHIVED)
|Placed Date||Jul 23 2006|
Texas Celestial Series #3 – Odessa Meteor Crater
The Odessa Meteor Crater, second largest in the United States and 6th largest in the world, was formed some 20,000 years ago when an iron meteorite believed to weigh 1,000 tons crashed into the Earth. The impact was so great that 4.3 million cubic feet of rock was expelled forming a cone-shaped crater 500 feet wide and 100 feet deep. Most impact structures in the world are classified as either “Odessa type” or “Barringer type” – crater in Arizona.
The action of wind and water during the subsequent centuries filled the cavity with silt so that today its concave surface is only 5 – 6 feet below the level of the surrounding plain. The crater retains its original board diameter, surrounded by a low, rock-buttressed rim crested when limestone formations were shattered and forced to the surface by the burrowing mass.
Fragments of the meteorite collected around the crater indicate that is was 98% iron and nickel with small amounts of cobalt, copper, carbon, phosphorous, sulfur and chromium. Although the mass of the meteorite has never been found, there are two competing theories revolving around the meteor. Some believe it lies embedded 179 feet below the surface, though drilling has showed this is probably not the case. Others believe that the mass of the meteor broke apart and was vaporized at impact. It is known that a small meteorite will withstand the force of impacting Earth easier than a large meteorite. Scientific investigation has revealed the presence of smaller adjoining depressions, formed by less massive bodies that fell in the same meteor shower which sent the mass to Earth. Although not now discernible, they were from 15-50 feet wide and from 7 – 17 feet deep.
Meteors are believed to have been formed by the breaking up of a planet similar in size and composition to the Earth. The body is thought to have been part of the solar system…perhaps the mythical planet between Mars and Jupiter whose disruption must have created the asteroids.
The Odessa Meteor Crater has been designated a National Natural Landmark and has been put under the protection of the Park Service. There is a museum at the crater which has a large display on the crater, a collection of meteorites and earth rocks altered by meteorite impacts from around the world. There is also a trail that travels through the crater, winds up the western rim, and then returns to the museum. The trail has very good markers describing the various features.
Directions: About four miles west of Odessa, Texas on Interstate 20. Take the Meteor Crater/Moss Avenue exit. Go south on Meteor Crater Road approximately 1.5 miles. Follow signs.
Clues: Go to the eastern-most covered picnic table (the one further away from the Visitor Center). From the picnic table, proceed at a heading of 70 degrees magnetic to the fence. Once you get to the fence, look down. You will see a piece of old, flat concrete. The box is located under the concrete.