Approximately fifteen million years ago, an asteroid about one mile (1.5 kilometer) in diameter collided with Earth, entering the atmosphere at an estimated speed of more than 45,000 mph (20 km/s). The impact and resulting explosion has been calculated to be equivelant to 1.8 million Hiroshima atomic bombs, leaving a round crater 15 miles (24 km) across with a high rim surrounding the depression made in the ground. Today, what remains of the rim rises from 330 to 490 ft (100 to 150 m) above the lowest elevation inside the crater, which was named ‘Nördlinger Ries’, often shortened to ‘the Ries’. An ancient tribe inhabited the area before the dawn of the Roman Empire. These were the Raetians; their lands were known as Raetia, and Ries is simply a derivation of Raetia. The other part of the name comes from the town of Nördlinger, built in the crater valley, 3.7 miles (6 km) southwest of the crater’s center. Interestingly, the town is surrounded by a high defensive circular wall, echoing the round rim of the crater in which it sits. It’s one of three towns in Germany that still has it’s original stone wall fortifications.
For years it was believed that Nördlinger Ries was a volcanic crater. In 1960, geologists Edward C. T. Chao and Eugene Shoemaker proved that the Reis was actually the impact crater of a very large asteroid. (Shoemaker is famous for his work training Apollo astronauts, helping to found the field of planetary science, and co-discovering Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9.) A second smaller asteroid impact crater several miles away was long thought to be caused by a piece of the Nördlinger Ries asteroid that broke off sometime before impact. However, recent research suggests the two impact sites occurred 50,000 years apart.
Nördlinger, with a population in the neighborhood of 20,000 people, is more than 1,120 years old, as historical documents first mention the town in the year 898. Of course, there’s been alot of history since then, but most uniquely, the town is built of countless diamonds. All of the old homes and buildings in the town were built using stones quarried from within the Reis, and each stone contains micro-diamonds formed by the heat and pressure of the asteroid impact and explosion. The micro-diamonds are far too small to be useful to industry, let alone in jewelry, and it would be uneconomical to mine them even if they had commercial value.
Some of the information presented in a few of these videos may not be accurate. They were chosen for their superior views of Nördlingen, rather than accuracy for details and facts.
“Our visit to Nördlingen, Bavaria, Germany” (7:08)
“The Town Built Inside Of A Meteorite Crater” (3:21)
“The Fortified City of Nördlingen [Drone Video] – The Real-life Attack on Titan City” (4:07)
“Nördlingen: A Town build on a 15 Million Year Old Meteorite Crater” (4:49/ cued to start at 0:55)
Question Of The Night: Many people have a preferred gasoline brand and tend to fill up the tank only at their favorite fossil-fuel retailer. Who do you like to buy your gas from, or do you buy based on lowest price or wherever is most convenient when in need?