The experts all agree that the Hoba Meteorite is the biggest meteorite that has been found on earth until today.
The meteorite came down about 20 km west of Grootfontein about 80,000 years ago and still remains at the same place, which is not surprising, considering the estimated weight of 60 tons.
The boulder, which has an area of 2.95 x 2.84 m and a height of between 122-75cm is estimated to be between 200 and 400 million years old. (Vogt, p3)
It consists mainly of iron (82,4%) and nickel (16,4%) and some trace elements such as cobalt. Its name is derived from the Hoba Farm in the Otavi Mountains.
In March 1955 the Hoba Meteorite was declared a national monument. The area around the meteorite was donated to the National Monuments Council in 1987. The meteorite enjoys a large popularity with tourists.
Often people ask themselves what might have happened to the then supposedly huge meteorite crater. No crater or altered rocks have been found associated with the impact site. After the meteorite fell it was gradually covered by a layer of calcrete. This calcrete formed by the evaporation of near-surface groundwater which carried calcium carbonate derived from the surrounding Otavi limestones Today the area receives a maximum annual rainfall of only 750 mm and near-surface groundwaters are less abunclant. Thus the calcrete sugests a more humid climate in the recent geological past. (Vogt, p3)
Meteor craters of large meteors are often unrecognizable after a few decades already due to plant growth and after some centuries due to erosion.
In 1920 the meteorite was discovered by Hermanus Brits. His statement regarding the discovery is kept at the Grootfontein Museum and it reads:
"One winter as I was hunting at the farm Hoba I noticed a strange rock. I sat down on it. Only its upper part was visible. The rock was black, and all around it was calcareous soil. I scratched the rock with my knife and saw there was a shine beneath the surface. I then chiselled off a piece and took it to the SWA Maatskappy in Grootfontein, whose director established it to be a meteorite."
The first scientific report on the meteorite was published by Luyten (1929) after he had undertaken an investigation following a report on the meteorite in Die Volksblad. The results of later tests concerning the metallurgical composition of the meteorite were published by Spencer.
Unfortunately, vandals have since damaged the meteorite. In 1985, Rössing Uranium Ltd made funds available to the National Monuments Council's Regional Committee for SWA to combat vandalism. In collaboration with Rössing, the Council launched a project to protect the meteorite and make the surroundings more attractive for visitors. Mr J Engelbrecht, the farm owner since 1987, donated an area for the development of the site. Subsequently, an information centre was established to meet educational needs. The new facilities were officially opened on 31 July 1987. (Vogt, p4)
Vogt, A. 2004. National Monuments in Namibia. 2nd ed. Macmillan, Windhoek.