Six Meteorites Have Hit Iowa Since 1847

By Mark Carlson, Reporter


By Mark Carlson

IOWA CITY, Iowa — There have been six documented meteorite strikes in Iowa since 1847. The most recent was discovered in the town of Alvord in far northwest Iowa in 1979, although experts believe the meteorite may have been on earth for more than 50 years before being discovered.

“These things do happen and they’re probably more common than you think,” said University of Iowa astronomy professor Steven Spangler. “Although it’s extremely rare [a meteorite] will hit someone or hurt them.”

A highly publicized meteorite strike in Central Russia damaged buildings and injured more than one thousand people Friday. Many of the injuries resulted from shattered glass, which blew out as a shock wave moved across the area.

Meteorites can travel up to 50-miles a second, according to Spangler. Iowa’s most famous strike happened in Linn County near Marion the same day the University of Iowa was established at the then state capitol building in Iowa City.

“The house members were in the process of establishing the University of Iowa, so at the same time this flew over Iowa City and landed in a field south of Marion when we were establishing this University,” said Shalla Ashworth, associate director of UI’s Old Capitol Museum. A 20-pound chunk of the meteorite is now on display at the museum.

“It would have created a very prominent fireball, similar to what happened in [Russia],” said Spangler.

No one was injured in the strike, which hit in a wooded area near the Cedar River. In 1875 a second strike was recorded in Eastern Iowa near Homestead in Iowa County. 800 pounds of meteorite were recovered in a strike that could be seen from Chicago to Omaha, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

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