He has long been a surprise to scientists: the main riddles of the Devil's Canyon

He has long been a surprise to scientists: the main riddles of the Devil's Canyon

The Arizona crater, also known as the Devil's Canyon, is a large meteoric crater in the state of Arizona, located 30 kilometres west of Winslow and 69 kilometres east of Flagstaff.

The crater appeared after the fall of a 50-metre meteorite, weighing about 300,000 tons and flying at a speed of 45,000 to 60,000 km/h or 12 to 20 km/s. The explosion from the fall was three times as powerful as the fall of the Tungus meteorite and the equivalent of 8,000 atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima. In previous studies around the Arizona Crater, scientists found fragments of meteorite nickel.

The size of the asteroid that caused the collision is unknown — probably between 30 and 50 metres across — but it should have been large enough to release 175 million tons of rock.

It's remarkable that he's the only one who's kept his almost original appearance, and although there are larger blow marks on the planet, the meteoric origins of the Devil's Canyon were the first to be proved, and he's the best to keep his original appearance.

How old is the crater?

Scientists aren't quite sure when the crater appeared. According to the official version, it's 50,000 years old. Three independent studies show that number.

However, scientists have learned in recent years that calibrating two of them is related to "more uncertainty than we thought," explains David Kring, the chief researcher at the Institute of the Moon and Planets in Houston, Texas, and he is likely to be several thousand years older.

During the research, scientists extracted pollen from lake sediments that filled the crater and were able to reconstruct the vegetation that was in the region at the time of the meteorite fall; the results of the study are still uncertain and precise age of the crater.

Why is he so unusual?

The pictures of the crater show that the edge of the crater and the areas outside it are much lighter. These are debris thrown out of the crater, which consists mainly of Kaibab limestone and Kokonino sandstone. You can see that it's not really round, it's almost square.

According to the scientists, the earlier defects in the rock caused it to drift further into four directions when hit, and these cracks, ranging from north-west to south-east and north-east to south-west, formed when the Colorado plateau rose from sea level to its current height, ranging from 2,750 to 3350 metres at different sites.

In addition, when the asteroid fell, people had not yet reached North America, and the reel of forested hills was probably inhabited by mammoths, mastodons and giant ground lazys, and the crater is now standing in the middle of a growing desert shrub.

Why is he so important?

For many years, the Arizona Crater has been training the candidates for cosmonauts, providing basic training, and may soon begin an advanced programme, which is particularly important in the context of preparing for the return of people to the Moon as part of the Artemis mission.

Arizona's crater is chosen precisely because it's very well preserved, and it's also conveniently located. It's a safe way to introduce cosmonauts to the type of area they'll have to work in and make it as safe as possible.

Understanding the formation of craters from strikes, the processes that lead to their formation, the way they redistribute material on the surface of the Moon — all of which are important for the training of astronauts — scientists point out. "The world's best spectrometers are the eyes of well-trained astronauts," David Kring stresses.

Most of the asteroids that survived the collision with the Earth's atmosphere eventually fall into the water, just because the oceans cover 70% of the planet, but massive space stones sometimes hit the surface of the planet, and so was 5,000 years ago, when an iron asteroid crashed into North America and left a shiny hole in the territory of modern northern Arizona, and now helps people learn more about space and prepare for moon landing.