Holleford Crater 

   An Relatively Unknown Eastern Ontario attraction 
            worth visiting today!

Standing looking at the remnants of the crater you can almost feel what it must have been
like on the day 550 million years ago the meteorite smashed into the countryside.

Holleford Meteor Crashing into Earth

Depiction of the Holleford Meteor slamming into the earth some 550 million years ago just north of Kingston Ontario Canada

N 44 27.511 W 076 37.985

This is the Holleford meteor crater located at Holleford, Ontario just north of Kingston, Ontario. A plaque at the site reads A meteorite traveling 55,000 kilometres per hour smashed into the earth here eons ago, blasting a hole 244 metres deep and 2.5 kilometres wide. Aerial photographs revealed the crater in 1955, and since then scientists have pieced together much of its geological history. Analyses of drill samples suggest that the meteorite struck in the late Precambrian or early Cambrian period (between 450 and 650 million years ago).

At first the depression filled with water, becoming a circular lake. Later Palaeozoic seas swept in sediments, filling the crater to its present depth of about 30 metres. The explosive impact of the meteorite (estimated to have been only 90 meters in diameter) is still evident in the hundreds of feet of shattered rock that drilling has detected beneath the original crater floor.

Crater Farm Where the 
Halleford Meteorite 
Struck the Earth 550 million Years Ago

Today, when you drive or bike to see where the meteorite impacted, there is not much that is left to see except the pond in the field of Crater Farm and a sign erected by the Ontario Government standing beside the road. 

When you are there, you can see that you are in the middle of a little valley perhaps about 2.5 kilometers wide.  As you look to the north of the sign, you can begin to perceive that there is a pathway carved out of something that created this valley. 

Drive to the west and up the hill to the top of the road and stop and look.  There is definitely a valley and right in the middle at the bottom is the little pond where now cattle come to drink the water. 

Drive to the east end of the valley and you will find a road going north.  Drive until you reach the first side road going west and drive in about 100 meters.  There is a driveway there and if you look to the south of the drive way you can envisage the path taken by the meteorite as it descended and then struck the earth at the site of the pond. 

Here I found a man who was cutting his lawn who told me that this is the place where the meteorite passed overhead. He also told me  the story about scientists who came in 1955 to drill and find that the rocks were shattered 250 meters beneath the surface.  He told me about the aerial  survey and what the scientists had told him when he was a child. -  Joe Lor 

e-Mail Author

It was a world totally foreign to us today as the landscape was devoid of any kind of vegetation or animals except the odd algae life form.

550 million years ago the North America continent was slowly drifting away from South America. 

The main groups of animals had appeared: worms, mollusks and arthropods but most were in the sea and not on the land.

Early forms of jellyfish seem to have evolved into various different kinds of worms, one of which was the ancestor of flatworms. They, in turn, probably evolved into higher animals. Ancestral flatworms may have first appeared around 570 million years ago  nearly 20 million years later than when the meteor crashed into the earth.


Location - Directions:
From Kingston Ontario Follow Highway 38 north through Harrowsmith, Ontario Canada and into Hartington. Turn right/east at the store/gas station. Immediately on the right is a fire station. You are now on the correct road. Follow the road east for a km or two and it will take a bend to the north. Continue for another km or so and it comes to a T branch. Turn right/east and continue up the hill. You are now roughly on the rim of the crater. Continue along to the first large barn with a windmill on the north side and you should see a historical society sign inside the fence line. This is private property. If you continue up the hill east to another T branch you are close to the other rim.

And on that day then it came in, whether it was day or night does not really  matter.  It came from the north right over the hills and rocks.  It came in fast at about 55,000 kilometers per hour.  Faster than any of the fighter jets or rocket that flies today.

As the 90 meter in diameter meteorite came in, the bow wave of air ripped into the surface of the earth shattering it as it went.  The noise must have been shattering - louder than 1000 railway engines passing. As it got less than 500 meters above the earth it, the air was so violent that it dug a huge 2.5 kilometer wide valley just before it actually impacted into the earth sending a massive mushroom cloud of debris perhaps two or five miles into the atmosphere. 

This was the time known as The Neoproterozoic which is a period of time roughly from 600 million years before the present to 544 million years before the present. The exact boundaries may vary somewhat with the person using the term. The Neoproterozoic covers a period of time in which fossils of multicelled life are found, but during which only algae  Algae (singular is alga) comprise several different groups of living things that are simple plants, producing energy through photosynthesis. 

Fast forward the time to just after the World War II in Canada. Canadians had developed some very sophisticated aerial photographic techniques during the war and were applying them to non war usage such as aerial geographic surveillance mapping of Eastern Ontario.

In 1955, the Holleford meteor crater was discovered early in the systematic search of air photographs. The crater contains a thick layer of Palaeozoic sediments but still has the remnant of a rim, also mainly covered by sediments, rising 100 feet above the central region around 
approximately half the circumference. Beals (1960) has described the magnetic, 
seismic and gravity studies which preceded a diamond drilling program. The 
geophysical observations are well explained by the layers of sedimentary limestone 
above the lens of breccia which was revealed by the three drill holes sunk at varying 
distances from the centre. The identification of coesite in the drill core from 
Holleford and the microbrecciation of individual crystals revealed by microscopic 
studies (Bunch and Cohen 1963) demonstrate that strong shock effects were involved in 
the formation of this crater and support its identification as a meteorite crater.

Holleford Crater Sign

The Holleford Crater is a Great Place in 
Eastern Ontario to Learn and See
a little about our planet's past.

Books to Learn More About

Killer Rocks from Outer Space: Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors (Discovery)
Rocks from Space: Meteorites and Meteorite Hunters (Astronomy)
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Meteorites 
Meteorites : Their Impact on Science and History
Meteorites and Their Parent Planets
Rain of Iron and Ice: The Very Real Threat of Comet and Asteroid Bombardment

For More Information - Try and See Holleford Google

Crater Explorer
Queens University Miller Museum of Geology
Holleford Meteor Crater Expedition 1983
My Aerial Explorations of Terrestrial Meteorite Craters

Holleford Crater Google Maps


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