The selectable maps and aerial photographs below present material related to Nördlinger Ries. The Nördlinger Ries is a large circular depression in western Bavaria, Germany, located north of the Danube in the district of Donau-Ries. The city of Nördlingen is located about southwest of the centre of the depression.
Ries impact crater
The depression is interpreted as a meteor impact crater formed about 14.3 million–14.5 million years ago in the Miocene. The crater is most commonly referred to simply as the Ries or Ries crater. The original crater rim had an estimated diameter of . The present floor of the depression is about below the eroded remains of the rim.
It was originally assumed that the Ries was of volcanic origin. In 1960 Eugene Shoemaker and a colleague showed that the depression was caused by meteorite impact. The key evidence was the presence of coesite (shocked quartz), which, in unmetamorphosed rocks can only be formed by the shock pressures associated with meteorite impact. The coesite was found in the building stone (suevite) of the Nördlingen town church, constructed from locally derived stone. The suevite was formed from mesozoic sediments.
Another impact crater, the much smaller (3.8 km diameter) Steinheim crater, is located about west-southwest from the centre of Ries. The two craters are believed to have formed nearly simultaneously by the impact of a binary asteroid.
Recent computer modeling of the impact event indicates that the impactors probably had diameters of about (Ries) and (Steinheim), had a pre-impact separation of some tens of kilometers, and impacted the target area at an angle around 30 to 50 degrees from the surface in a west-southwest to east-northeast direction. The impact velocity is thought to have been about . The resulting explosion had the power of 1.8 million Hiroshima bombs, an energy of roughly 2.4 joules.
The Ries crater impact event is believed to be the source of moldavite tektites found in Bohemia and Moravia (Czech Republic). The tektite melt originated from a sand-rich surface layer and was ejected to distances up to downrange of the crater.
Stone buildings in Nördlingen contain millions of tiny diamonds, all less than across. The impact that caused the Nördlinger Ries crater created an estimated of them when it impacted a local graphite deposit. Stone from this area was quarried and used to build the local buildings.