Analysis of a crater-forming meteorite impact in Peru

Brown, P and ReVelle, DO and Silber, EA and Edwards, WN and Arrowsmith, S and Jackson Jr, LE and Tancredi, G and Eaton, D
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 113(E9), 2008

The fireball producing a crater‐forming meteorite fall near Carancas, Peru, on 15 September 2007 has been analyzed using eyewitness, seismic, and infrasound records. The meteorite impact, which produced a crater of 13.5 m diameter, is found to have released of order 1010 J of energy, equivalent to ∼2–3 tons of TNT high explosives based on infrasonic measurements. Our best fit trajectory solution places the fireball radiant at an azimuth of 82° relative to the crater, with an entry angle from the horizontal of 63°. From entry modeling and infrasonic energetics constraints, we find an initial energy for the fireball to be in the 0.06–0.32 kton TNT equivalent. The initial velocity for the meteoroid is restricted to be below 17 km/s from orbit considerations alone, while modeling suggests an even lower best fit velocity close to 12 km/s. The initial mass of the meteoroid is in the range of 3–9 tons. At impact, modeling suggests a final end mass of order a few metric tons and impact velocity in the 1.5–4 km/s range. We suggest that the formation of such a substantial crater from a chondritic mass was the result of the unusually high strength (and corresponding low degree of fragmentation in the atmosphere) of the meteoritic body. Additionally, the high altitude of the impact site (3800 m.a.s.l) resulted in an almost one order of magnitude higher impact speed than would have been the case for the same body impacting close to sea level.