Chinguetti meteorite: Where to search for the “iron hill”

More than a hundred years ago, researcher Gaston Ripert found an “iron hill” in north Africa. Most likely, it is a meteorite. However, since then, researchers have not found any traces of the “space guest”.

Where to search for “iron hill”. Source: arXiv (2024). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2402.14150

Chinguetti meteorite

Three physicists took a fresh look at the circumstances surrounding the mysterious Chinguetti meteorite and developed a way to confirm whether it exists or not. In their article, Robert Warren, Stephen Warren and Ekaterini Protopapa suggest that there are only a few possible places to look for a space rock, and therefore a magnetometer-based survey of the region can reveal its mystery.

In 1916, Gaston Ripert, an employee of the French consulate, informed his colleagues that he had found what he described as an “iron hill” in the Sahara Desert, about 45 km from Cinguetti (Mauritania) in northwestern Africa. As proof of its existence, he brought a piece of rock that allegedly broke off from it. Scientists suggested that the only possible explanation for the existence of such an object in the desert was a meteorite impact.

Since then, many scientists have studied Ripert’s evidence and thoroughly investigated the area where he saw the “iron hill”, but so far no evidence has been found. In this new attempt, scientists have once again reviewed the existing evidence and conducted their own research to solve this mystery.

Finding an iron meteorite

Having studied the results of previous work, the researchers suggest that there are strong arguments both for and against the existence of the Chinguetti meteorite. They point out that when describing the “iron hill”, Ripert observed what he called metal needles.

Only in 2003, scientists discovered that such objects are sometimes found in meteorites that contain large amounts of nickel. In addition, it seems possible that any crater formed as a result of the impact will be covered with sand. They also note that it seems that many previous searches were conducted in the wrong area.

The researchers claim that if such a meteorite does exist, it must be covered with a dune at least 40 m high. By studying digital terrain models, they determined that there were two likely areas in the region where such a meteorite could exist. And this, in their opinion, means that a simple magnetometer-based of these two sites can solve this mystery.

According to

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