Meteorite impacts in West Africa and Central Europe!

Inspired by the expedition to Mauretania of “” where they took this extraordinary shot of the Tenoumer crater, we started to search for meteorite craters in our area …

Tenoumer crater Mauretania // Photographer & Copyright by
After our research we could not believe it, but 15 million years ago a massive meteorite with a diameter of 1,5 km! crashed into the earth in Central Europe with a speed of  more than 70.000 km/h. This impact caused a crater with 24 km in diameter and the immediate destruction of all life in Central Europe. Originally it was assumed that the Ries was of volcanic origin, but in 1960 Eugene Shoemaker and Edward C. T. Chao realised that the depression must have been caused by meteorite impact. This impact crater in Southern Germany is called the Nördlinger Ries. More on Wikipedia:ördlinger_Ries
Parking for the Night, at the edge of the crater!

On our way through Bavaria we had of to explore this exciting site course. First we arrived at Oettingen in the north of the Nördlinger Ries and went into town the next morning to find the information centre closed on Sunday. After a short stroll through Oettingen we left and drove through the crater to Nördlingen, where a museum about the Ries was open.

Empty Oettingen on a Sunday

Nördlingen is a beautiful historic town which dates back to the 11th century which still has a completely intact city wall surrounding it and many historic buildings.

Tower of St. Georg

St. Georg is the Evangelical Lutheran parish church in the middle of the city of Nördlingen. The late Gothic church, built between 1427 and 1505, with its highly visible tower, the Daniel, is the symbol of the city built with local stone, a suevite impact breccia that contains shocked quartz created by the impact.

Klösterle – once a Franciscan monastery, now a hotel
Town Hall

The town hall of Nördlingen dates to the 13th century and like other buildings was also built with suevite.

Museum of the Nördlinger Ries
Impact simulation shown in the Ries Museum

The impact crater is not easy to recognise due to the huge diameter and because the present floor of the depression is only about 100 to 150 m below the eroded remains of the rim. Even on satellite pictures, it is hard to see. A tour with a guide to point out the remains of the impact would have been great, but due to Corona no tours were taking place.

The weather forecast promised some sunshine for the next day, which we wanted to enjoy at a lake. So we left to find a good spot before it might be crowded with campers 😉

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *