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Monday, 27 February 2017

6 BIGGEST METEORITES IN HISTORY THAT HAVE PLUMMETED TO EARTH AND SURVIVED


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The biggest meteorites in history that have plummeted to Earth and survived
By Lindsay Dodgson,
Business Insider, 18 February 2017.

Often, when rocks from space hurtle towards Earth, they burn up in the atmosphere before actually reaching us. The ones that vaporise become a meteor - or a shooting star.

The lucky few that make the whole journey land on Earth as meteorites. Once on the surface, these meteorites can exist as a single rock for thousands of years, except for a little weathering.

Asteroids are much bigger, such as the one 63 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs, and 2012 DA14 which narrowly missed the Earth in 2013.

Here are some of the biggest space rocks ever to crash into us and survive.

6. Willamette

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Willamette is the largest meteorite ever found in the US, at 7.8 square metres long and with a weight of 15.5 tonnes.

The Willamette Meteorite is made up of iron and nickel and was acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in 1906. It has an interesting little story attached, because it was discovered by Ellis Hughes in 1902 who recognised that it was more than a piece of rock, and spent three months shifting it three quarters of a mile from land owned by the Oregon Iron and Steel Company, but he was caught. The photo above was taken at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in 1911.

5. Mbozi

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Credit: Christiaan Zeelenberg/Wikimedia Commons

Mbozi was discovered in Tanzania in the 1930s. It’s 3 metres long and weighs an estimated 25 tonnes, or almost twice that of Willamette.

Mbozi was once a sacred stone to the people of Tanzania, who call it kimondo. No crater was found, which means it probably rolled like a boulder when it hit the Earth’s surface. Mbozi was partially buried when it was first discovered, so people dug the hillside around it, leaving a pillar of soil underneath, which was then turned into a plinth.

4. Cape York Meteorite

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Credit: Mike Cassano/Wikimedia Commons

The third largest meteorite in history, the Cape York meteorite, or Agpalilik meteorite, collided with Earth nearly 10,000 years ago.

The Cape York meteorite was discovered in 1993 in Greenland and weighs about 20 tonnes. It’s been around a long time, and Inuit living near it used other pieces as a source of mental for tools and harpoons. It is currently on display in the Geological Museum of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

3. Bacubirito Meteorite

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Credit: saxxon57/Flickr

The Bacubirito meteorite is the largest meteorite ever found in Mexico and weighs about as much as the Cape York.

The Bacubirito meteorite was found in 1863 by the geologist Gilbert Ellis Bailey in the village of Ranchito near the town of Sinaloa de Leyva. He had been sent there by the Chicago journal the Interocean, and excavated the meteorite with the help of local people. It’s an iron meteorite that weighs about 20 tonnes, and measures 4.25 meters long, 2 meters wide, and 1.75 meters high. It is currently on display in the Centro de Ciencias de Sinaloa.

2. El Chaco

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Credit: Carlos Zito/Wikimedia Commons

El Chaco is the second largest meteorite on Earth, weighing in at almost twice as much as Bacubirito. Plus, it’s just a fragment.

A group of meteorites called Campo del Cielo are responsible for the 60 sq km crater field of the same name in Argentina. One of the fragments, El Chaco, is the second heaviest meteorite recovered on Earth, weighing 37 tonnes. It was located in 1969, 5 metres under the ground using a metal detector, even though the surrounding craters were already well known to locals. In 1990 there was a plot by meteorite hunter Robert Haag to steal El Chaco, but he was caught by a local Argentinean police officer.

Another fragment was removed from the ground in 2016, believed to be part of the same shower as El Chaco.

1. Hoba

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Credit: Compl33t/Wikimedia Commons

The largest meteorite on earth is this monster, named Hoba. It is located in Namibia, and has never been moved.

Hoba is nearly twice the weight of its nearest rival El Chaco at 60 tonnes. This makes it the biggest naturally occurring piece of iron known on Earth’s surface at 6.5 square metres. It’s thought to have landed around 80,000 years ago, and since then it has never been moved because of its mega size. It never had to be dug up either - one theory is that the meteorite’s shape caused it to skip along the surface of Earth rather than crashing and burying itself.

Top image: Meteorites that burn up in our atmosphere are called shooting stars. Credit: Vincentiu Solomon/Unsplash.

[Source: Business Insider. Edited.]

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