A Dutch contribution to early interpretations of Meteor Crater, Arizona, USA – Marten Edsge Mulder’s ignored 1911 paper

Grzegorz Racki, John W.M. Jagt, Elena A. Jagt-Yazykova, Christian Koeberl

Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association
Available online 13 June 2018


“Following the first scientific descriptions in the late nineteenth century, the origin of the curious structure currently known as Meteor Crater (or Barringer Crater) in Arizona (USA) remained controversial until well into the twentieth century. Within the context of commercial mining, Daniel Moreau Barringer’s view that it recorded a substratum-penetrative meteorite impact (with the cosmic body still preserved) was commonly discarded. Marten Edsge Mulder (1847–1928), Dutch professor of medicine, found fault with Barringer’s non-explosive model. In 1911, Mulder advanced, in an ignored paper written in Dutch, a novel model of an explosive meteorite (‘meteor’ in Mulder’s terminology), during which the meteoroid front had been initially hollowed out in a bowl-like fashion on its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere. As a result of the greatly compressed gases in this reshaped part, the bolide would eventually disintegrate in a bomb-like blast. Even though his model is, physically speaking, just as implausible as other early interpretations, Mulder concluded that only a limited (if any) primary mass of iron-nickel would have been preserved at Meteor Crater. In doing so, he predicted the bankruptcy (in 1929) of a mining business set up on the basis of Barringer’s concept that large meteorite-hosted ore resources would be found at the crater site. In a single discussion of this original contribution (in 1913) by his fellow countryman, Jan Frederik Niermeyer, professor of geography, a seismically induced origin of the unique structure is preferred – another unnoticed Dutch contribution to the early interpretations of this ”natural curiosity”.”