Monday, 6 February 2012

Odessa Meteor Crater

N 31° 45.422 W 102° 28.675
My wife and I decided to finally visit the Odessa Meteor Crater Museum after living in Midland, TX for over a year. It is one of those things people bring up from time to time in conversation, but it is just far enough away to never make it to the top of your To Do list. As a Geologist however, it is a very interesting place to visit even if there isn’t much to see at the surface.

Entrance to the Odessa Meteor Crater Museum
We drove about 20 miles west of Midland to Exit 108 on Interstate 20. There is a brown State Historical sign that directs you off the Interstate, then you drive down what seems to be an oilfield road for a few miles to a nice green tin-roofed museum and visitor center. It was very breezy and cool so we elected to tour the museum first. There are a husband and wife couple that live on the site and run the museum, they were very nice and very eager to discuss the crater with us. We took out time looking at the exhibits which feature many meteorites (and meteorwrongs) from around the world as well as news clippings, photos, models, and movie posters. There is a small seating area with a TV where documentaries on meteorites play on rotation as well.

Do Not Pick Up!
There is a show on Science Channel I believe called Meteorite Men in which two rock hounds travel around the world looking for pieces of meteorites. They apparently recently visited the crater and found some of the newest specimens in a caliche oil field road. These are on display in a cabinet made especially for the show. Having seen a few episodes I thought that was pretty neat. One last note about the museum is that the facilities were very clean, and I attribute that to the fact that this is their home as well as their business. There is no entry fee but donations are greatly appreciated.

Meteorite Men Display Case
Lastly, we took a short hike through the crater itself. There is a self guided trail from the covered picnic areas that takes you down and across the main crater and around the western rim. All told this is only about a quarter mile mostly flat walk. There is only 15 ft of relief from the rim to the center of the crater. There is a cross section of the rock layers, the fenced off site of the original exploration shaft, and signs about the excavations and rock types. I would recommend allocating yourself two hours to fully enjoy everything Odessa Meteor Crater Museum has to offer. What this visit has done more than anything is increase my desire to travel to Arizona and see the large Meteor Crater which is believed to be the same age as this little cousin in West Texas.

Me at the original exploration shaft entrance

I still have three posts from last Fall to make, one will cover our family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN, one is a product review for our new waterproof camera, and lastly our trip home to Alabama for Christmas. Stay tuned.
Just a short walk on the rim