National Geographic : 1951 Jun
A Flaming Projectile Gouged Meteor Crater in Arizona's Desert Supersunlight, an earth quake thud, clouds of rock, and geysers of steam. Thus scientists reconstruct the moment when a visitor from interplanetary space struck the earth. Not un like a crater on the moon, this pockmark appeared on the Painted Desert. It is 570 feet deep and nearly a mile wide. Various people have con jectured that a meteorite lies embedded beneath the crater's floor. Drillers have searched for it in vain. A 1922 expedition bored 1,376 feet. Then the drill, strik ing a hard mass, presum ably iron-nickel, was lost. One theory holds that the missile vaporized on con tact and fell in fiery rain. Weathering effects indi cate the crater may be 5,000 years old. Rock frac tures on the south side show the meteor (or meteor and satellite) angled in from the north. In a sec ond it removed more than half as much material as the Panama Canal gave up. In this air view huge boulders dislodged by the impact look like pebbles. Pulverized rock coats the rim. Hopi Indians, who believe a god lives in the crater, use the rock dust in religious ceremonies. Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc.