CCC receives meteorite donation


CCC Geology Instructor Kurt Yuengling sits in the geology classroom with a meteorite recently donated to the College. 

Flagstaff, Ariz. -- Around 50,000 years ago, a massive fireball hit the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona. A crater was formed -- it was one kilometer wide and 750 feet deep. It left all sorts of debris in its path, including fragments of both rock and meteoritic material.

In 1902, engineer-geologist Daniel Barringer was intrigued by the crater and perceived it to be a plentiful mining location for both iron and nickel. It was later discovered his predictions were correct. 

The Barringer Meteor Crater is a historical landmark well-known throughout the city and all over the world-and it's right here in Coconino County. CCC is now the proud owner of a piece of history surrounding the creation of Barringer Crater. 

Kevin Mullins, a faculty member of 10 years at Coconino Community College who has recently resigned, requested for a meteorite to be donated to the College for students to observe. 

"Before I moved [to Denver, Colorado], I decided to take one last stab at getting a donation," Mullins said. 

According to Mullins, it was a bit of a challenge to obtain a piece of the meteorite for the school, but he didn't stop trying.

Carleton Moore, Founding Director of the Meteorite Center at Arizona State University and the staff at the Barringer Crater site east of Flagstaff were happy to oblige.

"I got in touch with Moore and he was very excited. Eventually, he sent what he wanted to donate and it was far more than I expected. I can't say how much I appreciate what he sent to the College," Mullins said.

Mullins explained his thought process and his passion for obtaining a sample. 

"I taught geology at CCC for many years. My goal was to improve the rock and meteorite collections," Mullins said. "If you go down to the globe display, we had many samples, but never [one from] a meteor crater."

Why is this crater so important to the community?

"It's the most famous crater in the world and it's in your county," Moore said. "When they asked for a [meteorite] sample to display, I picked out one of my eight or 10 meteorites and gave it to them. I was glad to help."

In addition to the meteorite, a small metal piece formed inside the meteorite was given as a sample as well. The inside of a meteorite can contain traces of silicon, iron, and nickel. The meteorite will be displayed in a glass case in CCC's hallway to be admired by those who decide to take a look. 

"Meteor impacts are a potential disaster. It's important to teach the students about that," said Kurt Yuengling, a full-time geology instructor at CCC.

While they average in occurrence every 6,000 years or so, meteors can cause serious damage to anything in their path.

"The Indian trader there distributed them [meteorites] to museums all over the world. There are many out there. I can't tell you at the top of my head how many thousands of meteorites are out there," Moore said. 

Like the meteorite addition to CCC, the Barringer Crater itself is available for people to view at their leisure. 

-- Brittany Viar



Monday, 11th September 2017

All Dates

  • Monday, 11th September 2017