- Meteorite Type: Iron, IAB
- Weight: 35.2 kilograms
- Approximate Measurements: 300 mm x 280 mm x 165 mm
- Additional Information: First discovered 1576, Formosa, Argentina
Campo del Cielo 35.2kg
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In 1576, the governor of a province in Northern Argentina commissioned the military to search for a huge mass of iron, which he had heard that Natives used for their weapons. The Natives claimed that the mass had fallen from the sky in a place they called Piguem Nonralta which the Spanish translated as Campo del Cielo (“Field of Heaven”). The expedition found a large mass of metal protruding out of the soil. They assumed it was an iron mine and brought back a few samples, which were described as being of unusual purity. The governor documented the expedition and deposited the report in the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, but it was quickly forgotten and later reports on that area merely repeated the Native legends.
Following the legends, in 1774 Don Bartolomé Francisco de Maguna rediscovered the iron mass which he called el Meson de Fierro (“the Table of Iron”). Maguna thought the mass was the tip of an iron vein. The next expedition, led by Rubin de Celis in 1783, used explosives to clear the ground around the mass and found that it was probably a single stone. Celis estimated its mass as 15 tonnes and abandoned it as worthless. He himself did not believe that the stone had fallen from the sky and assumed that it had formed by a volcanic eruption. However, he sent the samples to the Royal Society of London and published his report in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Those samples were later analyzed and found to contain 90% iron and 10% nickel and assigned to a meteoritic origin.
Later, many iron pieces were found in the area weighing from a few milligrams to 34 tonnes. A mass of about 1 tonne known as Otumpa was located in 1803. A 634 kilograms (1,398 lb) portion of this mass was taken to Buenos Aires in 1813 and later donated to the British Museum. Other large fragments are summarized in the table below. The mass called el Taco was originally 3,090 kilograms (6,810 lb), but the largest remaining fragment weighs 1,998 kilograms (4,405 lb).
The second-largest mass of 28,840 kg named El Chaco was located in 1969 at a depth of 5 metres (16 ft) using a metal detector. It was extracted in 1980 and estimated to weigh around 37 tonnes. This stone was at the time the second heaviest single-piece meteorite after the Hoba Meteorite which weighs 60 tonnes. However, the total mass of the Campo del Cielo fragments found so far exceeds 60 tonnes, making it the heaviest meteorite ever recovered on Earth.
In 2016, the largest single piece of the Campo del Cielo meteorite was unearthed. Named the Gancedo Meteorite after the nearby town of Gancedo which lent equipment to aid in the extraction, this nickel-iron meteorite has a mass of 30,800 kg. Originally, it was thought to weigh less than “El Chaco”. Due to a suspected lack of precision when “El Chaco” was weighed in 1980, the latter was then reweighed with the same instruments and it was discovered that it only had a mass of 28,840 kg, thus less than Ganged. – As stated by Wikipedia