Earth Impact Database data
14 million years ago, it was a bad day in Europe - a 1km wide rock came out of the sky. A smaller rock, maybe a 100 meters or so wide cracked off and landed here in Steinheim (Stone Home) making a crater roughly 3 km across. As time went on, it formed a lake, erosion happened, the lake emptied and we are left with the Steinheim Basin. The crater rim surrounds the towns of Steinheim and Sontheim, and the central uplift - the Klosterburg - remains in the middle. Shatter cones were found in the area several hundred years ago, and it is from the shape of the crater and the shatter cones that we know this is the result of a meteorite impact.
Shatter Cones, the presence of Coesite (Shocked Quartz), and/or meteorites are now all accepted indicators of meteorite impact. Crater morphology and gravitational signals help also.
Geological trails in the Steinheim Basin
Tawaki looks from the Burgstall over Sontheim to the Central Uplift / Klosterburg
Tawaki investigates the strata map of the basin
Shattercones in the Meteorkrater Museum
(it has limited hours, but you can go over to the curator's house and she will open it for you!)
When you have a bunch of shatter cones in their natural habitat, the angle of the shock patterns will point to the location of the center of impact.
The Burgstall from outside the crater
Panorama of the Steinheim Basin taken from the Burgstall - the southern edge of the crater
Panorama with labels
The view from above
adapted from maps.google.com
I think the crater rim should be a bit farther out than I've drawn - I'll re-draw one of these days!
Text and Images Copyright ted
Brattstrom 2003, 2006