A massive iron meteorite has been pulled out of its Argentine grave, after hiding underground for 4,000 years.
Discovered on Sept. 10 by Astronomy Association Chaco meteorite hunters, the so-called Gancedo meteorite is not your average chunk of space rock, it rivals the second largest meteorite ever found. Weighing-in at around 34 tons(68,000 lb or 30,800 kilograms), Gancedo is only bested by the 37 ton El Chaco meteorite that was also found in the same Campo del Cielo ("Field of Heaven") meteorite fall.* Gancedo and El Chaco are the largest fragments found so far from that historic fall.
Gancedo is so-named after the village it was discovered near and in appreciation of the villagers who aided in the meteorite's recovery.
Though these specimens are undoubtedly giants among space rocks, the largest meteorite ever discovered is the monstrous Hoba West meteorite in Namibia, which is estimated to weigh 60 tons.
Campo del Cielo occurred around 4,000 years ago, scattering a huge number of iron-rich meteorites over a large area. So far, 26 craters have been found and around 100 tons of meteorite samples recovered. The Campo del Cielo region is around 600 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.
In a video released online, the effort to pull the meteorite from the ground was documented. According to news coverage, after the meteorite was discovered the research team were inundated with water, so the decision was made to use heavy-lifting equipment to recover the meteorite.
*There appears to be some ambiguity as to the estimated weight of the El Chaco meteorite, with the lowest estimate placing it at 32 tons and the highest estimate placing at 37 tons. If the former is closer to its actual weight, the Gancedo meteorite is the second largest meteorite ever found.
Originally published on Discovery News.
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Ian O'Neill is a media relations specialist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. Prior to joining JPL, he served as editor for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific‘s Mercury magazine and Mercury Online and contributed articles to a number of other publications, including Space.com, Space.com, Live Science, HISTORY.com, Scientific American. Ian holds a Ph.D in solar physics and a master's degree in planetary and space physics.