Barringer Crater main content.

Barringer Crater

Part of Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites.

D.3.5.3. Scale model of Meteor Crater hero.jpg

Exhibition Text

Meteor Crater, also called Barringer Crater, formed in a meteorite impact. This realization caused some scientists to change the way they thought about the solar system. After 1909, researchers began to argue that if a meteorite could make a huge crater on Earth, impacts might have cratered the Moon and other planets too.

When mining engineer Daniel Moreau Barringer first saw the crater in 1903, he not only suspected that it formed during a meteorite impact, he also believed he could unearth a huge meteorite mass and market its valuable metal content. He spent the rest of his life exploring these two ideas.

Although Barringer's mining attempts failed-most of the meteorite had been destroyed on impact-his dedicated research on the crater laid a foundation for understanding impact cratering on Earth and other planets.

How do we know an impact formed Meteor Crater?

When Barringer's drilling crews bored into the rock layers under and around the crater, they found convincing evidence that it could not have formed from a volcanic explosion, as some had suggested. A meteorite impact was the only logical explanation.

Around the rim of the crater, the layers of rock debris are deposited in the