Meteor Crater in Arizona is the most recognizable and best-known meteorite feature on Earth and is visited by many thousands of tourists annually. Estimates of its age vary from 25,000 to 50,000 years, but all parties concur that it is the finest and best-preserved large meteorite crater on our planet. It was the first proven meteorite crater and seminal meteoriticist H. H. Nininger conducted years of research at the site and also opened the world’s first private meteorite museum close by. Meteor Crater was studied by legendary geologist Gene Shoemaker and some of NASA’s Apollo astronauts were trained there. Canyon Diablo is a steep-sided ravine some distance west of the crater and meteorites found around the crater take their name from it (the convention being that meteorites are named after the nearest town or geographical feature to their fall location). Meteor Crater is internationally recognized as a scientific site of unique importance and meteorite collecting there is no longer permitted. Older specimens that were found during the first half of the 19th century, when meteorite hunting was still allowed there, are therefore highly desirable. This fascinating lot includes four items:
1. A piece of ‘shale,’ which is the term given to iron meteorite fragments that have oxidized after their long time of Earth. Typically found on the surface near the crater, these weathered pieces clearly demonstrate the effect of long-term exposure to terrestrial elements such as sun and rain.
2. A whole (or unweathered) iron meteorite.
3. A partial slice of the Canyon Diablo meteorite showing its signature Widmanstätten pattern. This meteorite is rarely seen in slices as whole irons sometimes contain micro diamonds which wreak havoc on blades. As such, the few labs that are capable of preparing iron meteorites in this manner are often reluctant to try slicing Canyon Diablo.
4. An extremely rare Caynon Diablo spherule, likely collected by H. H. Nininger and his team. Dr. Nininger's groundbreaking work at Meteor Crater suggested that much part of the crater-forming mass vaporized on impact and the condensed into tiny iron spheres, like this one, that fell around the crater and which were meticulously collected and studied to determine their meteoric origin. Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Geoff Notkin of Aerolite Meteorites Inc. and the TV show Meteorite Men, as well as a specimen identification cards.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.