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Source: Stadt Nordlingen

Did you know that Nordlingen is built in the middle of an impact crater! It is situated slap bang in the middle of the Ries meteorite crater. This was formed 14 million years ago, when an impactor 1.5km across slammed into the Earth with the force of 1.8 million Hiroshima bombs, leaving a 24 kilometre wide crater in its wake. Nordlingen is even the type locality for suevite; a brecciated (fragmented) rock formed from glass, crystal and/or lithic fragments during an impact event. The 13th century church in the centre of the town was built from local stone, meaning most of the blocks are composed of suevite. Not only does this contain shocked quartz, (quartz that has been altered by an impact event) but it also contains millions of tiny diamonds (<0.2 millimetres across) which glisten beautifully on a sunny day. In fact over 72,000 tons of diamonds were produced due to the meteorite striking a graphite deposit, the immense temperatures and pressures altering the in situ carbon. Want to learn more about such processes? Well the town conveniently has a Ries crater museum which can answer all your questions and can even sell meteorite fragment. Perhaps more excitingly, the museum hosts a fragment of moon rock, donated by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong after they completed parts of their training in a nearby quarry. The best bit however is the view from the top of the churches bell tower. From here you can see across the whole crater with a 360 panoramic view of the town and even the crater rim off into the distance. As a complete geology geek, I can't think of any better place to be.

Source: Watson

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