Hunks of Metal: The Biggest and Most Valuable Meteorites to Hit Earth
Meteorites are chunks of rock and metal that travel through space, with a few of them hitting the Earth on their way. They aren’t as big as massive asteroids like the one that supposedly meant the extinction of the dinosaur, but they are still fascinating objects.
Hoba, Namibia – The Biggest Meteorite
This massive piece of metal is the largest, fully intact meteorite to have ever been found on Earth. It is thought to have landed in Namibia some 80,000 years ago and it weighs an incredible 60 tons or more. The meteorite has been uncovered in its resting place but it remains in exactly the same spot where it landed, where you can visit the tourist centre.
This is the biggest piece of naturally produced iron on the planet and it is almost twice as big as the next contender on this list. It measures 6.5 square metres and it was one of the largest pieces of metal on Earth before the era of iron structures and CE accredited fabrications.
Nōgata Meteorite, Japan- The Oldest Reported Sighting
This object isn’t the biggest meteorite to have smashed into our planet. However, it is the oldest to have been officially witnessed and registered. Back on 19 May, 861, a youngster in the Fukuoka Prefecture of Japan was lucky enough to see it blazing down from the sky.
He led others to the place of impact and they confirmed that it had fallen from space. The ancient meteorite was fully analysed in 1979 and can now be seen in a Shinto shrine in the town where it landed so long ago.
Gancedo, Argentina - The Second Biggest in History
Gancedo is actually just a fragment of an enormous meteorite that hit the north of Argentina around 4.500 years ago. The meteor storm that hit here at that time lead to a 60sq km crater field known as Campo del Cielo. The largest of these iron objects from space was thought to be El Chaco, which weighs 28.8 tons and was discovered in 1969.
Yet, further studies revealed that the nickel-iron Gancedo tips the scales at 30.8 tons, making it the second largest ever discovered. These meteorites have an interesting history, with the natives using them for weapons before a foiled plan to steal them in 1990.
Willamette, USA – The Biggest Meteorite in the USA
Despite not being as big as some of the other ones we have examined, Willamette might well be the most photographed meteorite. This is because it is the biggest ever found in the USA and it was put on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York at the start of the 20th century.
This giant rock is made of iron and nickel. It measures 7.8 square metres and weighs 15.5 tons. The Clackmas people revered it but it was moved from its Willamette Valley, with European settler Ellis Hughes spending 90 days attempting to steal it before it was sold for $26,000 and then donated to the museum. In 2019, a piece of it was returned to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.