Monturaqui Crater

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Monturaqui Crater, Chile
Monturaqui Crater, Chile / Rudolf Reiser, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
One of the most impressive meteorite craters in South America is Monturaqui Crater. It was first described in scientific literature in 1966 (Sanchez, Cassidy) – then it got its name too.

This crater was created some 660 000 years ago by a meteorite coming from the north-west. It is speculated that the Campo del Cielo craters in the nearby Argentina appeared at this same time.

The site is located approximately 3,000 m above the sea level. Thus the meteorite had to pass only through half of the total mass of atmosphere, if compared with meteorites, which fall into the sea.

Meteorite here hit a thin layer of volcanic rock – 3.2 million years (Pliocene) old ignimbrites. It penetrated it and smashed a granite under it as well. As the meteorite was falling askew, the crater is elongated in northwest – southeast direction, the steepest edge (35 degrees steep) is in the south-east. Also the rim of the crater in the south is for 10 – 15 m higher than in the north.

In the vicinities of crater and inside it have been found corroded pieces of iron, glassy impactites, Ni-Fe-Co-P spherules.

In the northern part of the crater is located a small, temporary lake, created by the rare rain in summer. This lake has left a layer of lime sediments.

References

  1. Sanchez, J., Cassidy, W. A., A previously undescribed meteorite crater in Chile. Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 71, pp. 4891-4895. 1966.
  2. Ugalde, H., Valenzuela, M., Milkereit, B. An integrated geophysical and geological study of the Monturaqui impact crater, Chile, Meteoritics & Planetary Science 42, Nr 12, 2153 – 2163 (2007).

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Monturaqui Crater -23.927729, -68.261510 Monturaqui Crater
Coordinates: 23.9277 S 68.2615 W
Categories: Impact craters
Values: Geology
Rating: (3 / 5)
Address: South America, Chile, II Antofagasta, in the mountainous desert some 20 km south from Salar de Atacama
Diameter: 350 – 370 m
Depth: Around 34 m
Age: Approximately 660 000 years

Landmarks of Chile

Conguillio National Park, araucarias and Sierra Nevada volcano, Chile
Conguillio National Park, araucarias and Sierra Nevada volcano / Javier Ignacio Acuña Ditzel, / CC BY 2.0
The natural and man-made heritage of Chile is very diverse, also thanks due to extreme length of the country extending from driest deserts in the north to the most southern historical inhabited lands of the world in Patagonia.

Impact craters

Pingualuit crater, Canada
Pingualuit crater / NASA, Wikimedia Commons, public domain
There are many pieces of solid matter flying around in the space. And VERY frequently they fall on the surface of Earth. There are estimates that every year on Earth fall 18,000 – 84,000 meteorites larger than 10 grams: e.g. one meteorite every 6 – 30 minutes.

This category includes outstanding impact craters – detectable scars on the surface of Earth left by a body coming from outer space. Category includes also meteorites – natural objects from the outer space.

Recommended books

Meteorites & Meteorite Impact Craters Around the World


Meteorite Craters Around the World – throughout Earth’s history, meteorites have
pummled the planet’s surface. These collistions have caused mass extinctions and even climate change on a global scale.

Sites of Impact: Meteorite Craters Around the World


The best-preserved impact sites are often difficult to access – buried under ice, obscured by foliage, or baking in desert climes. These desolate landscapes are connected to another place outside of our world, and for photographer Stan Gaz they are sites of pilgrimage – steps in a journey begun as a curious young boy accompanying his father on geological expeditions, and culminating in a six-year journey traveling the globe in search of these sites, much of that time spent leaning his medium format camera out of an open-sided helicopter.

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