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Monturaqui Crater

Monturaqui Crater, Chile
Monturaqui Crater, Chile / Rudolf Reiser, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldBlue  In short

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.

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GPS coordinates
23.9277 S 68.2615 W
Location, address
South America, Chile, II Antofagasta, in the mountainous desert some 20 km south from Salar de Atacama
350 – 370 m
Around 34 m
Approximately 660 000 years

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

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 nearby Argentina appeared at this same time.

The site is located approximately 3,000 m above sea level. Thus the meteorite had to pass only through half of the total mass of the 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 the northwest-southeast direction, the steepest edge (35 degrees steep) is in the south-east. Also, the rim of the crater in the south is 10 – 15 m higher than in the north.

In the vicinities of the 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.


  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).
Monturaqui Crater is included in the following article:

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Meteor Crater from the south
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Impact craters

There are many pieces of solid matter flying around in space. And VERY frequently they fall on the surface of the 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. The category includes also meteorites – natural objects from outer space.

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