History of Meteor Crater Arizona

Meteor Crater, also known as Barringer Crater, lies about 37 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona.  The crater is about 3,900 feet in diameter and about 570 feet deep.  At first it was thought to be a volcanic crater because it occurs near the San Francisco volcanic field, home of many volcanic craters, but further investigation showed that a nickel-iron meteorite, about 500 feet in diameter, hit the area 50,000 years ago.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute has just made available a “Guidebook to the Geology of Barringer Meteorite Crater, Arizona” which is free for download here:


The report is 150 pages long, including references, and the file is 139 Mb, but can be downloaded by individual chapters.  The report contains many maps, diagrams, and historical photographs.

The report reprises the somewhat checkered history of the area including its evaluation as a possible iron deposit, through several scientific investigations that finally revealed the true nature of the crater.  It discusses the physics of impact and its geological consequences.  Below are some of the diagrams.

Barringer-crater-cross-section Barringer-geologic-map Barringer-impact