Namibia is well known for its Meteorites and its Meteor activity. However, the two main Meteorite’s most known in Namibia are classified as 1. Hoba Meteorite and 2. Gibeon Meteorite(s). Let us help you to distinguish the difference between these two.
1. The Hoba Meteorite
All meteorite analysts, professionals and experts agree that the Hoba Meteorite is the currently the largest meteor which can be found on earth up to the present moment The Hoba meteorite has an estimated impact date of 80,000 years ago about 20 kilometres west of the City of Grootfontein, Namibia (Otavi Mountains).
The chance event discovery by the landowner Mr Jacobus Hermanus Brits, discovered the Iron Giant while ploughing the fields with an ox. The loud metallic-like scratching sound coming from the plough forced him to an abrupt halt where an excavation followed accordingly. In-depth details are laid out specifying the undertaking of the find and excavation in 1920, as presented inside the Grootfontein Museum. The Hoba meteorite left no preserved crater.
Friedrich Wilhelm Kegel, a director of mining operations at the Tsumeb mine from 1924 to 1933, took the first known published photograph of Namibia’s Hoba meteorite.
Namibia’s Hoba Meteorite was declared a national monument in March 1955. The surrounding area around the Hoba meteorite was donated to the National Monuments Council in 1987. The meteorite enjoys a large popularity with most tourists visiting the monument (Click Image below for NMC’s Website).
• Size: 2.7 x 2.7 x 0.9 metres (8.9×8.9×3.0 ft)
• Weight estimate: approximately 60 tonnes
• Composition: 16% Nickel and 84% Iron, including traces of cobalt.
• Classification: Ataxite iron meteorite
• Other: A crust of iron hydroxides is locally present on the surface, created due to weathering.
2. The Gibeon Meteorite(s)
Namibia’s Holidaymakers residing inside the capital city of Windhoek can see one of the country’s most visited national monument, the famous Gibeon Meteorites. These samples are visible in the Post Street Mall in an open-air form of showcasing (no extra expense for viewing). The meteor Samples are permanently fixed at the Meteorite Fountain throughout this Arts and Craft’s Street- or Alley Market, located close to the Independence Avenue entrance.
The Gibeon meteorite(s) was firstly discovered by Namibia’s indigenous Tribe – the Nama people who used them to make tools, spears, bullets and weapons.
Historical records indicate that in 1836 (?) the English captain J. E. Alexander collected samples of the meteorite scatterings in the vicinity of the Fish River, flowing from the Naukluft Mountains 150 km and entering Marintal’s Hardap Dam near Mariental. After samples were analysed in London by John Herschel the first-time confirmation of an extraterrestrial nature of the material was breached.
It is generally accepted that a Strewn Field of the Gibeon Meteorite fragments is dispersed over an elliptical area 275 kilometres (171 mi) long and 100 kilometres (62 mi) wide.
In 1975 it was decided to remove them from Zoo Park (the former location of showcasing) and relocate the fragments in storage in the courtyard of Windhoek’s Alte Feste Museum. Unfortunately, over the time 2 fragments of the Gibeon Meteorite were stolen and this explains why the 2 westernmost pedestals of the Mountain Fountain display in Post Street Mall are empty hence the fountain layout of the display could not be changed. The 3rd was stolen after they were installed on the Mountain Fountain. Sadly, so only 30 meteorites are currently secured. The Namibian government has since placed a ban on the export of the meteorites with severe Prison time (not to be taken lightly). Any other meteorites that have been legally removed or withheld from the open Public display, can be viewed at the Geological Survey Museum (Ministry of Mines and Energy) in Aviation Road near Eros Airport, Windhoek (opposite Safari Hotel in Windhoek).
Namibia’s Gibeon meteorites are composed of an iron-nickel alloy containing significant amounts of phosphorus and cobalt. Some European researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne said the Gibeon meteorite demonstrates the potential for natural materials to be used as high performing electro-catalysts in the future, a property serving interest for modern forms of alternative energy creation methods.
The Geological Survey Museum insider Tip:
Our Adventure Centre here at Namibia Adventures Tourism Information Platform can only recommend a visitation at this Museum. Some of their showcases include 750-650-year-old Stromatolites, the earliest known shell-bearing organism, Cloudina, more recent fossils include the Arrisdrift collection from southern Namibia with an age of 17-19,5 million years. Found on the northern bank of the Orange River, fossils collected from this site showcase a big type of dassie, rhinoceros, crocodiles, small rodents, ancient species of giraffe ancestors, elephant, and fish. Unfortunately, the layout of their Website doesn’t do the Museum’s collection showcasing any justice. The physical display’s rank far beyond the digital Information provided on the Website layout. If you have some free time and you are a fan of Namibia’s Geology (and more) then do yourself the favour and go for a visit.
P.S.: There are no entrance fees!