Meteor Crater Near Winslow Arizona A Reminder Of Asteroid Impact Dangers

Meteor Crater: Winslow, Arizona

(full size image)

Wow, just wow…

We recently visited the meteor crater near Winslow, Arizona (for the purpose of this post!) and it was an awesome visual reminder of the devastating potential from asteroids (becoming meteors when they enter our atmosphere) smashing into our planet.

50,000 years ago, a pinpoint of light grew rapidly into a brilliant meteor.

The hunk of iron-nickel probably broke free from the asteroid belt during a collision among the countless asteroids circling there.

It only took seconds to pass through our atmosphere at an estimated speed of 26,000 miles per hour and in a blinding flash the mass of several thousand tons of rock (estimated to be 150 feet across) smashed into earth with an explosive force greater than 20 million tons of TNT.

175 million tons of limestone and sandstone were blasted out of the crater. A dense hot cloud quickly rose high above the crater and rained down as fallout across the land.

And all this was caused by a meteor that was “just” 150 feet across.

Related: Stunning Simulation Video Of Asteroid Belt

While sitting on a bench at the crater rim, I contemplated the massive hole in front of me with respect to the size of the meteor itself. I imagined the massive ejecta thrown out and I imagined how much terribly worse it would be for a meteor even larger.

If a 150 foot asteroid blasted a 4,000 foot wide by 700 foot deep crater (with all that earth being ejected into the sky), how big would a crater be (and ejecta) from a 1,000 foot wide meteor? Answer: You don’t want to know!

What’s interesting is how many times that a new asteroid is discovered hurling into our proximity – sometimes only days away from zipping past the earth at tens of thousands of mph. They seemingly come out of nowhere.

According to The Armagh Observatory (a modern astronomical research institute and the oldest scientific institution in Northern Ireland) it is estimated that there may be between 100,000 to 1,000,000 (that’s “million”) undiscovered asteroids on Earth crossing orbits.

The asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter, is filled with up to several million asteroids all jostling about like a ping pong gallery. A previously predicted orbit could suddenly become a brand-new (different) orbit and become a danger to earth when two of these space rocks collide together and change their path.


Preparedness For A Meteor Strike

Okay, there’s not much that we can do to prepare for a meteor the likes of the mega-rock that hit the Earth at the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico which apparently ended the dinosaurs.

An extinction level meteor strike will simply be bad luck. Bye bye…

What about a lesser meteor? The question is, how much lesser? There’s a threshold at which the effects become much more than local. What if one strikes a major population area? Obviously there’s no point in preparedness if you’re “on the X”.

A large meteor (but not an extinction level meteor) might result in a massive amount of ejecta material being launched into the upper atmosphere (similar to a major or super-volcano eruption?) and might result in a semi-darkening of the sky for a long period of time and a cooling of the surface until all of the particulate matter falls back to earth.

So, preparedness for such an event might include a very deep pantry to last well beyond one growing season. Prices of food will increase or skyrocket depending on the resultant climate disruption from the impact. A deep supply of seeds for subsequent planting (and failures) until crops can be re-established.

The good thing is that the odds of a catastrophic asteroid/meteor strike are pretty low at any given time. There’s no reason to be particularly overly concerned about such outlier events. That said, “IF” it were to occur (on a large enough scale), it could be extremely devastating. This is often the case with risk assessment. The risk may seemingly be very low, but the catastrophe could be very high.

My takeaway from today’s visit to Meteor Crater is how small we really are and how “the universe” can suddenly ruin your day…

A Related Novel:
Lucifer’s Hammer

The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival–a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known….


  1. I recently watched a fascinating you tube video on space. It compared the size of the earth to the sun, then to the galaxy, and on and on, and on and on. Earth began to look so very, very small and insignificant. For a little while I, too, began to feel insignificant. So did all my problems and cares and loves. What did they all matter?

    Then I thought about some very, very small things. The Ebola virus. The zika virus. These are not insignificant to me because of their size. Perhaps their size makes them even more important to me.

    Guess I am trying to say that prepping starts within you and your cconsciencousness has it’s own universe.

    I am in a rush this morning. Hope you catch my drift.

    It’s all relative.

    Stay frosty.

  2. For many years the 1906 Tunguska event in far east Russia seemed to be an enigma. Scientist were at different theories for the reasonable cause of this huge devastating incident.

    Chelyabinsk in February 2013 showed some insight to the Tunguska event.
    A meteor exploded in mid air without leaving any crater evident on the ground.
    A huge amount of damage was done by the shock wave and multiple sonic booms at Chelyabinsk and this meteor was estimated to be only 20 meters diameter.

    The Tunguska event meteor (Super bolide) has been estimated to be between 60 and 190 meters in size and exploded with an explosive energy of between 15 – 30 megatons of TNT.

    Both the Tunguska and Chelyabinsk events left no crater.
    Tunguska : 15 – 30 Megatons. No crater.

    This begs the question how many other non crater forming events have happened over the years.

    The Tunguska event flattened 770 square miles.(2000km squared)

    Researchers studying Google maps are constantly discovering more earth craters. Some newly suspected craters are actually hundreds of miles across.

  3. @Beano
    Your reasoning is all very correct which implies these events may not be so rare after all. Now imagine the effect on earth if just one of those meteors were to some degree radioactive. The ultimate dirty bomb.

      1. Another one I forgot about.
        (Doesn’t cost to get to see it.) However you must travel to Germany.

        Nordlinger Ries. – Swabia

        24km diameter Crater. Impact diamonds are found.
        But the interesting bit is that the Church tower in the nearby town is made from remnants of the meteor.

    1. A GREAT movie!

      The first time I saw this, I was struck by some of the profound statements by “Starman”. Here’s my fav:

      Mark Shermin: Have people from your world been here before?

      Starman: Before yes. We are interested in your species.

      Mark Shermin: You mean you’re some kind of anthropologist? Is that what you’re doing here? Just checking us out?

      Starman: You are a strange species. Not like any other. And you’d be surprised how many there are. Intelligent but savage. Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you?

      [Shermin nods]

      Starman: You are at your very best when things are at their worst.

  4. Can’t help but wonder how big the kill zone was in Arizona when that rock hit.

  5. I know this doesn’t stay on topic BUT; I saw the meteor crater when I was a child and it sparked an interest in astronomy. Now I couldn’t go near the creator for less than $32 for 2 of us seniors. Children are $9 a piece and adults $18. If you had a passel of kids you would be SOL. They really like to overdo things making it hard on the working class to see anything once they are there. I am so grateful for the National Parks Pass that gets seniors into national parks for free or we would never be able to see “Our Lands.”

    1. Old lady,

      Didn’t know you could see the “creator” for 32.00 dollars. Sound like a bargain to me!!! Lol

      1. definitely not a bargain for me. My social security doesn’t allow for those prices.

  6. When I was in high school, I read Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It’s about an​approaching asteroid, the meteor strike, the collapse and rebuilding of civilization. Might be worth a re-read….

    1. I was just looking at the book on Amazon. It was a collision with a comet, not an asteroid…

    2. Good book. Very well written. Terrifying really. A little dated. Gave it to the grandson to read.

  7. Like many, there seems to be one event that sparks an interest for a “hobby”.

    Way back in the 60s I have the honor to visit “Meteor Crater”, at that time one could still walk the path down into the crater, a rather hard long hike I will add. Like old lady that sparked the interest in Astronomy for me. I still dig out the old 18” scope at times just as a reminder of how humble we really are.

    My friends, this “Third Rock for the Sun” is just that, a rock we happen it inhabit. There are literally a ∞ number of stars/worlds “out there”.

    An instructor made an analogy once for me when I asked about the number of stars in our local galaxy. “Think of all the grains of sand on all of the beaches of the world, our Sun is just one of those grains of sand”.

    If you want to see what our world really looks like from Asteroid Impacts, get a pair if good Binoculars out and take a very close look at the moon’s surface remembering how much larger the Earth is.

    Will we survive a catastrophic asteroid/meteor strike??? Next time ya see a Dinosaur walking down the street ask him how it went when that 10 kilometer (6 miles) in diameter hunk of rock hit. BTW, that crater is approx. 9,826 mi².

    I do have to laugh at times when I hear someone say “well we can just shoot a nuke at it and destroy the asteroid…. HAHAHA, yeah right, those suckers move at around 25,000+ MPH and we may have 5 minutes to react…..

    I believe I’ll worry more about the Economy or a man made EMP that an Asteroid….


    1. “There are literally a ∞ number of stars/worlds “out there”.”

      Yes, this is true and has been proven since the universe is expanding (and is enlarging faster than once believed).

      1. @ Nailbender

        That’s cause ya been sipping on that Pineapple Moonshine again…. HAHAHA


    2. I recall an event when I was very young. It was a solar eclipse and we used a telescope in reverse to project an image of the sun on paper. At that young impressionable age, it was something I never forgot. It did lead me on to interests in astronomy (and many others!).

      1. Mark your calendar now for August 21, 2017, for the next solar eclipse. What is being called a ‘Great American Eclipse’ will be visible to varying degrees all across the lower 48. A great memory maker.

        1. Be sure to get your eclipse viewing glasses soon, before they run out and raise prices. Got ours on Amazon.

  8. They say that the last global SHTF event (50,000 years ago?) wiped out 90% of the species on earth. It seems to happen pretty regularly.

    We deal with what we can control. I can control my own yard, my skills, my food storage. Anything beyond that I’ll have to trust to a higher power.

  9. Chicken little is occasionally right, the boy who cried wolf is occasionally right, and sometimes you can win in Vegas. Is there a book out there that sets out the odds of all the calamities that can impact us – could be a thousand page book. And yes, NRP is also occasionally right :)

      1. @ NRP

        You have a high batting average (89%) according to Gallup poles who are never wrong (we all believe that don’t we) My average is 6% so don’t think I am criticizing. I praise the brew master.

        1. @ homebody

          Well heck, between the two of us we’re at 95%, not bad for a couple of old fogies… HAHAHA


  10. If the big event happens like the dinosaur extinction, some animal and insect species were not completely wiped out. I see a morbid way for a few humans to survive if they acquire a taste for carrion beetles and cockroaches.

    1. I just caught a glimpse of a story on tV that a company is now making “cricket bars” for human consumption – says good source of protein.

  11. Y-all want to see an amazing photo?

    Do a search on; Hubble ultra deep sky, on NASA website

    At first glance it looks like a photo of stars, it’s not.


    1. @ NRP

      That’s awesome. Looks like millions of galaxies. Kind of humbling… especially for anybody who thinks they are important.

      I’ve seen that before and it makes my head hurt thinking about how small we are, or how big the universe really is. Man! Earth ain’t nothin!!

  12. This is kind of where I draw the line. Sure, you can argue that the dust thrown up into the atmosphere could mess things up if it was big enough, but the fact remains that a meteor is both completely random in location and time and the chance of it occurring is unlikely. For the most part, preparing for nuclear warfare or a super volcano eruption would be more than sufficient and the concern of a meteor can be put out of mind.

    1. @ Youngster

      I love it when people “draw a line” HAHAHA

      Let me ask ya a question, and remember I’m on your side in this prepping stuff. What would you do differently in preparing from the event of a “nuclear warfare or a super volcano eruption” than you would knowing there is a probability of a “dust thrown up into the atmosphere could mess things up” ?

      Are you not going to prepare 99.99% the same? I feel that preparing for an Economic Collapse is pretty much the same as preparing for a month of no JIT Inventory. Are the supplies and TP not going to be needed just about the same?

      I believe that Ken’s article stirred some more reasons for a LOT/some people (maybe????), to get into the preparing mode, OR he just saw that big hole in the ground and said OHHHHHH CRAPO!!!!! BTW, that’s what I said back in the 60s. I believe that I’m going to sleep just fine not worrying about another Meteor blasting through my roof tonight, but it’s a good article to think on when that little rock decided to say Hello.

      BTW—– “Estimates for the mass of material that falls on Earth each year range from 37,000-78,000 tons— that translates to 18,000 to 84,000 meteorites bigger than 10 grams per year” Than my friends id a LOT of rocks falling on my roof.


      PS; I just put on my Hard-Hat :-)

      1. What I meant was that preparing for a nuclear war/volcano eruption was sufficient prepping for these fringe events. The fact is that preparing for one thing can often mean preparing for a lot of things, all you need in addition is adaptability, skills, and a good intuition among other things. Therefore, I think that preparing specifically for an event so random isn’t the best use of one’s time. I generally don’t care if there’s a large hole in the ground unless it replaces my house or my favourite burger place.

      2. NRP thanks for letting us know haw much mass falls on us. Now I know why it’s getting harder to walk. Gravity is increasing!

  13. I’m sorry, I just can’t help asking, did you stand on a corner in Winslow Arizonia and notice any girls in a flat bed Ford slowing down to take a look at you?
    ( Take it Easy – The Eagles)

    Love this site and have learned more than all may realize from you Ken and those who comment.

    1. @ NW Mitten

      That made me smile ear to ear to ear, and of course I hit You-Tube to have some memories rattled a little.

      :-) :-) :-) :-)

      Thank Ya

    2. @NW Mitten,

      Being an Eagles fan myself, as we drove on Rt.40 into Winslow, Mrs.J snapped a picture of the sign and we had “Take it Easy” playing in the truck. It was awesome nostalgia…

      Winslow City Limits

      1. Ken & Mrs. J
        You missed the art gallery before you arrive in Winslow AZ, nice place to visit. We would stop by every chance we were in the area to see what the new artist had on display.

      2. @ Ken

        Any idea how many hundreds of times they have had to replace that sign??? HAHAHA


  14. I just came from which I check every day.Speaking of Wow,a few small asteroids just went wizzing by a couple days ago.Really close,but they were like 4 0r 6 meters wide.There’s been a fair amount going by lately.Hope that’s not an indicator.

    1. It doesn’t have to be a planet killer to really screw us up. A really big one could hit an ocean, wipe out a continental coast and drown numerous islands. I think I’m far enough inland to not be affected by a big tsunami but a big enough asteroid hitting the Pacific and I’m toast. Along with many millions of others. And that would really screw with the economy.

      1. That is a very good point. About 70% of the earth is covered with water, and any given meteor strike (on average) is more likely to hit water than land. If that meteor is big enough, we’re looking at a tsunami situation (or a very Big tsunami coupled with fire ejecta into the atmosphere).

        Related: 300 Foot Tsunami and East Coast Destruction

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