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Desert Diary
Fossils/Geology/Allende Meteorite


Talk of aliens from outer space is always good for a shiver or two from the fans of the more bizarre radio talk shows. While most scientists are skeptical of tales of alien beings, visitors from space are another matter. The brilliant displays of meteors were long thought to be an atmospheric phenomenon. The realization that they actually originate from outside of earth thrilled scientists. Here was the potential to sample matter from the earliest history of the solar system!

Perhaps a bit slower to be grasped was the potential for catastrophe from the effects of a large meteor strike. Some Chihuahuan Desert inhabitants may have awakened to the possibility on February 8, 1969, when a meteor estimated to have weighed over 2 tons exploded in the sky southwest of Pueblito de Allende, in southern Chihuahua. The resultant fragments peppered the earth over an area of some 60 square miles, though causing no major damage. However, a similar explosion over Siberia in 1908 flattened hundreds of square miles of forest. Visitors from space can be a mixed blessing.
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Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.


Meteorite on display, Centennial Museum.



Web Resources

General all around source on meteors.

Meteor Overview.