30-tonne ‘Gancedo’ meteorite uncovered in Argentina

13 Sep 2016

A team of astronomers in Argentina uncovered a 30-tonne meteorite, possibly the second-largest ever found on our planet.

With news yesterday (12 September) that two asteroids recently missed Earth by a whisker, it is also worth remembering that many others crash into our home planet as meteorites on a regular basis.

Now, news emerging from Argentinian media appears to show one of the greatest meteorite finds of recent times. A team of astronomers discovered a huge meteorite buried outside the town of Gancedo in the north of the country.

A known meteorite hotspot

The Gancedo meteorite, as it has been dubbed by the regional astronomy association, weighs in at over 30 tonnes. Association president Mario Vesconi revealed that, while they knew that a meteorite had crashed in the location, they were shocked by the sheer size of it.

The area of Campo del Cielo (‘field of heaven’ when translated from Spanish) is familiar to meteorite hunters. The site was showered with fragments from a larger meteorite approximately 4,000 years ago.

At 30 tonnes, Gancedo would be the second-largest meteorite ever discovered by astronomers, surpassing the El Chaco meteorite which weighed over 28 tonnes.

However, Gancedo would be dwarfed by Hoba, the largest meteorite ever discovered. This behemoth comes in at an incredible 66 tonnes and was found in the south African country of Namibia.

Because of its sheer size, no team has attempted to excavate the cosmic giant and Hoba remains lodged firmly in the earth as a tourist attraction.

However, Vesconi concedes that Gancedo will be weighed again for a more accurate measurement before it can be officially confirmed as the second-largest meteorite discovery.

Meteorite over sky illustration via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic