Learn About the Odessa Meteorite

Basic Information

  • Location: Odessa, Texas, U.S.A. Latitude 31 degrees, 45 minutes, 21 seconds North, Longitude 102 degrees, 28 minutes, 43 seconds West.

  • Structural Class: Coarse octahedrite, Og, Widmanstatten bandwidth 1.7 0.25 mm.

  • Chemical Class: Group I, 7.35% Ni, 0.48% Co, 0.25% P, 0.5% S, 0.2% C, 75 ppm Ga, 285 ppm Ge, 2 ppm Ir.

  • Time of Fall: Late Pleistocene probably about 50,000 years ago.

    Location Map

    Here is a map showing where the Odessa Meteorite Crater is located:


    The Odessa meteorites and crater are similar in many ways to the Canyon Diablo meteorites and crater. Not only are they the same type--Group I coarse octahedrite--but they both fell in the prehistoric American Southwest. The first meteoritic iron from Odessa was described in 1922. The Odessa Crater was first recognized in the late 1920s as meteoritic in origin by Daniel Barringer, the lawyer-mining engineer that first recognized the origin of the Canyon Diablo Crater.

    Systematic exploration was done in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Both trenching and drilling were done. The work was of such intensity that well-known meteorist Harvey Nininger was led to exclaim "Odesecration" at the sight of the work. Magnetometer surveys revealed several small subsidiary craters.

    In recent years, the area of the crater has bee scoured by meteorite hunters equipped with metal detectors. The result has been a fairly plentiful supply of specimens.

    The Craters

    The Odessa crater is about 165 meters is about 535 feet (165 meters) across. The bottom of the crater is only about 6 feet (2 meters) below the plain and the rim rises only about 6 feet above the plain. The crater is filled with sand to a maximum depth of 30 feet. Four smaller craters were found near the main crater. All of these were completely filled. Efforts to find a large meteorite mass in the crater failed. more than one hundred holes were drilled without result. Thus, scientist hypothesize that the mass disintegrated on impact.

    Minerals of the Odessa Meteorite

    The Odessa mineralogy is typical of iron meteorites. The important minerals are:

  • Kamacite--this iron nickel alloy makes about 90 percent of specimens.
  • Taenite--the other iron nickel constituents taentie and plessite make up most of the remaining material.
  • Schreibersite crystals occur as laths or hooks. This is a very hard mineral that will ruin a saw blade unfortunate enough to be put to the task of cutting a Canyon Diablo.
  • Troilite--this iron sulfide occurs as nodules mixed with graphite.
  • Graphite in nodules with other minor minerals.
  • Cohenite, an iron carbide, is very common. This mineral is even harder than Schreibersite.

    Odessa Meteorites may contain Lawrencite, a chloride mineral that makes meteorites more subject to corrosion. The chloride may be an introduced mineral from salty sediment in the area of the crater. Special care must be taken to avoid corrosion in Odessas. (We are experimenting with methods of preservation and would be happy to discuss this matter with you.)

    Further Reading

    These books will help you learn more about meteorites:

    Rocks from Space by O. Richard Norton, Mountain Press, 1994. This book covers just about every aspect of meteorites in a way that the layman can easily understand.

    Meteorites & Their Parent Planets by Harry McSween, Cambridge U. Pr., 1987. Well written book for a layman with a technical background.

    Handbook of Iron Meteorites by Vagn Buchwald, U. of California Press, 1976. A very complete technical description of known iron meteorites.

    Let's Investigate Magical, Mysterious Meteorites by Madelyn Carlisle, Barron's, 1992. A well-done book for children-but written in a way that even adults will learn from it.

    To see our meteorite classification table and learn about the types of meteorites, click here.

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