The Sideshow

Ancient meteorite standing between one Iowa town and its water supply

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Image via the Iowa Geological and Water Survey

The remains of a 1.5 mile-wide, 10 billion-ton meteorite are causing problems for a small Iowa town, 74 million years after it crashed onto the Earth's surface at 45,000 miles per hour.

The Des Moines Register reports that the 1,600 residents of Manson, Iowa are struggling to locate a site for the town's well due to the geological impact of the meteorite. The crash created the underground Manson Crater—which has a diameter of 24 miles and reaches into four neighboring counties.

"It's hard to predict exactly what you are going to hit," state geologist Robert Libra told the Register. "It's a jumbled mess."

For a little context, the asteroid blamed for wiping out the dinosaurs and most life on Earth 65 million years ago is estimated to have been about 9 miles in diameter. According to a 2010 article in the journal Science, that impact was the equivalent of 1,000,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs, creating tsunamis and earthquakes measuring more than 10 on the Richter scale.

An explainer on the Iowa Geological & Water Survey site explains that while the Manson Crater meteorite wasn't enough to wipe out the dinosaurs (it hit Earth nearly 10 million years prior), it nonetheless had a comparable effect on prehistoric Iowa. The impact is said to equal 10 trillion tons of TNT, resulting in an electromagnetic blast that incinerated anything within 130 miles and wiped out all life within 650 miles of the blast.

In fact, the Manson Crater meteorite was long-thought to have been the cause of the dinosaurs extinction, until scientists determined that it was too old. Still, it remains one of the largest outer space collision sites in North America.

And now, after years of struggling to find a sustainable water source, engineers at Iowa's Department of Natural Resources say they may have come up with a solution: Drilling for water near the crater's center. They speculate that the crater's center is home to Iowa's softest water source.

"Water that comes out of the central part is naturally soft," Anderson said. "It's the only naturally soft groundwater in the state of Iowa," Anderson said.

Of course, fans of Stephen King's "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" will tell you that getting too close to any meteorite should raise a red flag.

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