The Odessa Meteor Crater, second largest in the United States and sixth in the world, was formed some 20,000 years ago when an iron meteorite believed to weigh 1,000 tons crashed into the earth near this site. Impact was so great that 4.3 million cubic feet of rock was expelled or shifted, forming a cone-shaped crater 500 feet wide and nearly 100 feet deep.
Action of wind and water during subsequent centuries filled the cavity with silt so that today its concave surface is only five to six feet below the level of the surrounding plain. It retains its original broad diameter, surrounded by a low, rock-buttressed rim created when limestone formations were shattered and forced to the surface by the burrowing mass.
Fragments of the meteorite collected around the crater indicate that it was 90 per cent iron, with small amounts of cobalt, copper, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur and chromium. Although the mass has never been found, it is believed to lie embedded 170 feet below the surface.
In addition to the principal crater, scientific investigation has revealed the presence of smaller adjoining depressions, formed by less massive bodies that fell in the same meteor shower which sent the large mass to earth. Although not now discernible, they were from 15 to 50 feet wide and from seven to 17 feet deep. Neither penetrated deeply enough to encounter solid rock but was formed primarily in clay-like deposits.
Meteors are believed to have been formed by the breaking-up of a planet similar in size and composition to the earth. The body is thought to have been part of the solar system... perhaps the mythical planet between Mars and Jupiter whose disruption must have created the asteroids.