BIG STORIES about little things – the journey of Etosha FlamingosOctober 29, 2012
The deep blue – Lake OtjikotoOctober 31, 2012
By Jana-Mari Smith
Namibia is not only blessed with spectacular wildlife and landscapes, but owing to a meteorite shower around 80 000 years ago, it is home to the largest known single meteorite in the world.
Named the Hoba meteorite, it is estimated that it’s age varies between 190 to 410 million years.
The Hoba meteorite fell smack bang into the middle of Namibia’s maize triangle, which at it’s three outer points are the towns of Tsumeb, Otavi and Grootfontein.
It’s name was derived from the farm where it landed, Hoba west.
The meteorite was discovered by Jacobus Hermanus Brits in 1920, and has since been declared a national monument.
The impact the Hoba meteorite made when it shot through space, entered our atmosphere and hit the soft white calcrete sands situated on the valley floors of the Otavi mountains, can still be imagined as one looks at the meteorite.
A deep groove expands from the edges of this space rock, and stone steps surround it in a perfect circle. One cannot help but realise that time, as measured in human lives, is but a tiny fraction of the time since this meteorite plunged to earth.
The Hoba meteorite weighs around 60 tonnes and is almost 3 metres long and up to 1 metre thick. Scientifically the meteorite is termed an ataxite high in nickel content.
This immense stone, which orginated in space, consists of 82,4 iron, 16,4 % nickels and 0,76 % cobalt. Some say that the meteorite is the largest known single mass of native iron known on earth.
Other trace elements contained in the rock are carbon, sulphur, chromium, copper, zinc, gallium germanium and iridium.
A small souvenir shop and coffee shop are situated in a well-kept garden at the Hoba meteorite, giving visitors a chance to quietly contemplate the meaning of time.
HOW TO GET THERE:
The Hoba meteorite is situated close to Tsumeb (for those on their way from Etosha National Park or back) or Grootfontein (visitors to the north, or north-east of Namibia).
From Grootfontein: (Around 18 kilometeres)
Turn off onto the C42 and drive until you get the D2859 turn off. Turn left and about 15 km later you will find the Hoba sign post.
From Tsumeb: (Around 60 kilomtres)
Drive on the C42 until you find the D2859 turn off. Take this turn off until you arrive at the Hoba Meteorite sign post.
- The American Museum of Natural History in New York City tried to purchase the meteorite in 1954 but couldn’t move it.
- According to legend, farmer Jacobus discovered the meteorite while ploughing his field with an oxen drawn cart.
- Namibia is world famous for its meteorites. The most extensive meteorite shower known is found in the Namibia’s south and is called the Gibeon Meteorite Shower.
- It is estimated that the Gibeon meteorite shower occurred over an area expanding round about 20 000 square kilometres.
- Due to attempts to remove parts of the meteorite, numerous vandalism attempts, and natural erosion, the mass of the meteorite has diminished over the years. Some parts of the meteorite have been exposed, and show a silver texture, which shines brightly in the Namibian sun.