Whole Object Name
Campo del Cielo Iron Meteorite
Campo del Cielo are a group of iron meteorites which take their name from the area where they fell. At least 26 craters have been discovered in this area, which spans 3 by 18.5 kilometres and is located 1,000 kilometres northwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The craters were well known to the indigenous population for many generations. Carbon dating charged wood from beneath the meteorite fragments indicates that the fall happened around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.
In 1576, Captain de Miraval led the first expedition to collect the iron fragments on behalf of the Spanish. Since then, about 100 tonnes of meteorite has been retrieved from Campo del Cielo. The area is an open, brush covered plain, which is a good location for finding meteorites, due to having little water and few terrestrial rocks.
Iron meteorites are thought to come from the core of asteroids that have experienced melting in their early history. Melted rocky material and melted metal do not mix, like oil and water. The dense metal (usually iron and nickel) sinks to the centre of the asteroid forming a core, surrounded by the rocky material on the outside. A collision smashing this type of meteorite apart, can send fragments of the metal core hurtling through space. The fragments that eventually land on Earth’s surface are called iron meteorites.