The 37 Tons. "El Chaco" meteorite, the biggest
fallen in Argentina
Campo del Cielo
In 1576 a huge meteorite fell down in Chaco (NE Argentina) # one enormous piece is on exhibition at the MACN (Buenos Aires) en
trance hall, and another at the British Natural History Museum (BNHM) (London). The first one is the biggest and best
known meteorite in South America and was called “El Toba” (4210Kg). It was collected in November 1923 at Estancia El Rosario, Chaco) from the proximity of Campo del Cielo (Field of the sky). “El Toba” has a short explanatory text of 200 words (30 x 40 cm), that I saw and photographed in July/2005. On its base the meteorite is highly rusted since it is placed on the Museums main entrance hall, where in wintertime, the room is highly humid as I could observe during my July visit.
The second one (634 Kilos, a fragment of the “Otumpa meteorite (900 Kilos) collected at the beginning of the 19th century in the proximity of “El Toba”, was donated to the BNHM by Sir William Parish, and its exhibition presents an enormous amount of information, metal analyses, photos, etc. In the same way that MACN authorities do not pay any attention to the most valuable piece of their collection (US$ 370,000, but probably worth over US$ 1,000.000 because it is a unique piece), it is possible to buy for US$ 50,00 pieces of “Campo del Cielo” meteorites at the MACN’s main entrance during a Sunday flea market at the Centenary Park. In 1924” El Hacha” (2, 5 K), was discovered, being followed by “El Mocoví”, (732 kilos) collected in 1925 at Colonia San Luis, Chaco. Others are: “El Tonocote” (850 Kg., 1931), “El Abipón” (460 k.o., 1936), “El Mataco” (990 kg., 1937) and “El Taco” (2 Tons 1961). From an enormous crater it was recovered a 37, 4 ton meteorite called “El Chaco”, the biggest one ever fallen on Argentine territory and the fourth in size in the world (see table nº 1). (Alvarez, 1926). During decades Argentines allowed hundreds or may be thousands of small “Campo del Cielo” pieces from Gran Chaco, Gualamba, and
The Natural History British Museum iron meteorite from Chaco, Argentina.
the “Esquel pallasite” from Esquel, Chubut, to be legally exported (there was no legislation?). I was informed that the MACN meteorite exhibition hall was partially disbanded long ago and the remaining “El Toba", the “Mocovi” collected at Colonia San Luis, (Chaco) and a third (without name) from Charata, (Chaco) were left in the same place because they were too heavy to be moved away. They are almost surely pieces of the same “Campo del Cielo” field. As an example of the scarce value that Argentine MACN authorities pay for these magnificent meteorites is the fact that there is no information available to the public about their history, their chemical compositions, no map of the place where they were discovered, no photo of the craters, etc. When law No 25,743 was drafted with the scientific assistance of MACN paleontologists, they forgot to enclose meteorites as valuable scientific and cultural heritage cosmic artefacts, which at that moment were object of intense commerce and smuggling. At present it is possible to purchase at British Jurassic Fossils, (UK) or through Ebay or Internet, pieces of 40 g., 480 g. (US$ 37, 66), or 2, 25 Kg. (US$ 395). The biggest one “El Chaco” with 37, 4 Ton was stolen in 1990 by meteorite collector Robert Haag and two accomplices who were detained by Chaco provincial police escaping with the meteorite on a small convoy that included a heavy truck with a winch. A local judge charged them. After paying a US$ 20,000 bond, Hagg was released and returned to Arizona. He never returned to Chaco and is fugitive at large. He is well known in the meteorite market as the “meteoriteman” and from time to time he sells on Internet small “Campo del Cielo” pieces. On the Internet there is one firm (http://www.arizonaskiesmeteorites.com/
) that has a total of 16 pieces of different size and quality, with a total weight of 185 Kg of "Campo del Cielo" meteorites with a retail price of US$ 16,254. Pieces vary from 0,74 Kg to 56 Kg, and prices fluctuate from US$ 220 to 3,995, (mean price: 1 kg. = US$ 87,80).
Another firm had on sale during August 2005 three pieces only: A small Iron Meteorite / Campo del Cielo / 45kg, US$ 4,050. A large, iron meteorite/Campo del cielo/ oriented/ 106 Kg. US $ 25,440. A large Iron Meteorite / Baygorria / Oriented / (from Uruguay?) 220kg US$ 44.000 (http://www.meteorites.tv/
). Meteorites Plus from Arizona offered 12 small pieces between US$ 52 and 235. (http://www.meteoriteplus.com/
) A dealer from Wa, USA had on sale a 32 inches x 27 priced at US$ 65,000 (http://www.bigmeteorite.com/igmeteorite.com/
). There are hundreds of firms offering “Campo del Cielo” meteorites being impossible to mention all of them. Freshly fallen appearance, no rust, and thumb printing is very much appreciated. Scientists have attempted to date the El Chaco meteorite, 37 tons. Campo fall by carbon dating of charred wood found in the craters. Dates of 5,800 years (plus or minus 200 years) and 3,950 years (plus or minus 90 years) have been obtained. These dates are consistent with an Indian oral tradition that the irons fell from heaven. Many of the Campo meteorites are highly rusted and corroded by terrestrial chlorides however some have significant areas of relatively fresh fusion crust. This too, is an indicator of a fall in the not-too-distant past.
A 15 Ton meteorite was unearthed by NASA researchers in Chaco recently.
Dr. William Cassidy who in the 60’s studied the “Campo del Cielo” area, came back to Gancedo, Chaco and together with a team of NASA specialists and the assistance of local authorities could detect at Gancedo, a 15 Ton meteorite that
had been buried 7 m below the surface of a crater it made when it crashed into the Earth almost 6,000 years ago.
Detected on September 16th/2005 the meteorite, without name by the moment, has a weight of 14,850 Kilograms, and it became the 8th heaviest meteorite in the world. The discovery was received with great joy and proud by locals inhabitants and authorities. (Clarin 20/10/05).
Cassidy and a NASA team recovered another 15 Tons."Campo del Cielo "meteorite at Chaco. Clarin October 2005.
The theft of the Tañigo II meteorite (Chaco)
On the 10th. April 2003, a meteorite from the estancia Tañigo II from Mr. H. Conradi, its owner, was stolen. It was considered to be heavier than the “El Toba”, some say it was around 6 Tons; others consider it was only 4 Tons. A reward was offered but police was completely in the dark. The meteorite had no name but it became known as the Tañigo II. A truck, a station wagon and a motorcycle participated in the robbery that took place near Campo Hermoso, (Charata), Chaco, from where another meteorite at the MACN’s exhibition was found, many decades ago. Curiously, in order to confuse its owner from a distance, a cement rock of the same size covered with iron was left at the meteorite’s place. Apparently he had tried in the past to sell the meteorite to different dealers; the delay of 20 days in denouncing the theft to the police brought some suspicions against him.
Later there was a new that the Tañigo II was in the hands of a meteorite dealer from the Great Buenos Aires area, ready to be sold for an amount over half a million dollars. The new also said hat the meteorite had been already sold to a meteorite dealer in USA, and that it was going to be exported from Uruguay. According to Ron Baalke (baalke at zagami.jpl.nasa.gov
) the weight of the meteorite was estimated, it never was moved from the discovery area in 1996It has 1.84 cm in length (more than 5, 5 feets). The estimated weight is 6 to 8 tons, and some people said, according with its size, it could reach the 10 tons. Was called "Tañigo II" or "Santiago del Estero". Is the second mass in Campo del Cielo after de "Chaco" meteorite (37.400 kg). The authorities of Argentina offered a reward for any information on it. This large meteorite is protected by Province of Chaco laws. If any person has information, please contact with:
Dr. Carlos Clauter
Judge of the cause Las Heras
45(3720) Charata, Chaco,Argentina
(Telefax ++543731 420004
Diario Norte (newspaper)Pellegrino 144(3500) Resistencia, Chaco, Argentina
(Tel ++543722 426047)
(Director) Policia del Chaco
++543722 463103 (Jefatura)
++543722 434127 (Investigations)
(Dept. Judicial) Ministro de Gobierno
Sr. Roy Nikisch
Ministerio de Gobierno y Justicia
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
The biggest stolen “Campo del cielo “on sale in USA
Up to now is the biggest “Campo del Cielo” meteorite we find on sale on Internet.Campo del Cielo, 924 Lbs. (approximately 415 Kg), Iron Nickel Meteorite, Chaco, Argentina, (32 inches high x 27 inches wide). On sale by Mark Earnst at Woolly Mammoth Rock Shop & Museum, 255341 Highway 101, Port Angeles, Wa 98362. ( Mark@BigMeteorite.com)