Yesterday my son Taylor and I went on a road trip to the site where a meteorite crashed 550 million years ago: the Holleford Crater. I never even knew it existed so close to home until Taylor told me about it last year. We intended to go and see it then but never got around to it before he had to leave for work in the far north. It dawned sunny and above zero so we decided to make the two hour trek about 40 minutes north of Kingston. ROAD TRIP!!
We drove along country roads which followed the river, then climbed windy hills passing frozen lakes and rock-cuts while listening to Beatles music, at first – Taylor thoughtfully loaded a bunch of my favourite music. The last stretch of our journey to the crater passed by hilly farmland on backroads directed by the GPS app on his phone. We pulled over in front of Crater Farm and low and behold there was an official Ontario landmark sign for “The Holleford Crater”!
The plaque at the site tells the story of a 90 meter in diameter meteorite, traveling 55,000 kilometres per hour, smashed into the earth here eons ago, blasting a hole 244 metres deep and 2.5 kilometres wide. When the crater hit the surface it would have sent up a cloud of debris 2-5 miles into the Earth’s atmosphere.
In 1955, aerial photographs revealed the crater. Canadian scientists from the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa confirmed it was indeed a meteorite crater from a series of four geophysical studies: magnetic observations, seismic studies, gravity studies, and a diamond drilling program. The crater contains a thick layer of Palaeozoic sediments but still has the remnant of a rim, rising 100 feet. At first the depression filled with water, becoming a circular lake. Later Palaeozoic seas swept in sediments, filling the crater to its present depth of about 30 metres. The explosive impact of the meteorite is still evident in the hundreds of feet of shattered rock that drilling has detected beneath the original crater floor.
At the time of impact, the landscape was devoid of any kind of vegetation or animals except the odd algae life form. The North America continent was slowly drifting away from South America. It was a LONG time ago!
We enjoyed our packed lunch while gazing over the countryside towards the impact area which looked ordinarily like most of the landscape. We spent 15 minutes there then left for home. We continued our journey on another road taking a circuitous route towards home along narrow country roads.
Both of us were very pleased that we finally visited the crater and got to spend a pleasant day together on this road trip.
The Holleford Crater is N 44° 27.511 W 076° 37.985 about 27 km north-north-west of Kingston, Ontario.
Meteorite 550 Million Years Ago