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Registered meteorites that has impacted on Earth visualized

on Tue, 02/19/2013 - 02:46

Last week, on February 14, 2013 a meteorite struck Chelyabinsk, located in the Russian region of the Ural Mountains, about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow. According to reports, about 10,000 people were injured due to its impact. 

This news called the attention of many people, putting the subject about meteorites on fashion during these days. As an example, the same day February 14, The Economist, Daily chart published an interesting chart showing the odds of dying in a given year under selected circumstances highlighting how improbable is dying by an asteroid impact. Next day, February 15, Simon Rogers from The Guardian published an interactive map "Every meteorite fall on earth mapped" showing the location of every recorded meteorite that has fallen on Earth back from 2500 BCE classified by the meteor mass and allowing to go to the specific record at The US Meteoritical Society database. On Fbruary 18, Javier de La Torre, inspired by the map from The Guardian, created the map "meteoritessize" using the same database and CartoDB.

Inspired by these previous works and having in mind other questions to answer, I created a data visualization based on the US Meteoritical Society database and using Tableau Public.


  1. A total of 34,513 meteorites has been registered, most of them (33,277 meteorites, 96% of total) with a mass less than 10Kgs. Take look at the left bar chart bellow the map for more information
  2. Meteorites of type L6 are the most frequent (6,565 meteorites), followed by H5, H4 H6 and L5. Take a look at the right bar chart beneath the map for more info. 
  3. At first sight, from 2,500 BCE to 1993 the number of registered meteorites per year is relatively low compared to the period from 1974 to 2012. But actually, based on the frequence of meteorites per year presented in the timeline chart, three different periods can be found. One from -2500 BCE to 1802 where the number of meteorites is from  0 to 2 per year. A second period from 1803 to 1973 caracterized by a progressive increment of the number of meteorites, having from 3 to 67 meteorites per year with two relevant spikes, one in 1937 (54 meteors) and 1969 (67 meteors). A third period from 1974 to 2012 with a high number of meteorites per year in a range from 49 to 3,804. Two relevant spikes can be identified in this period, one in 1979 with 3,804 meteorites and other in 1988 with 3,229 meteorites.
    According to information provided by Shawn Wallace, Scientific Assistance at American Museum of National History and a meteoric researcher, the big jump after 1974 is due to the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research starting to collect meteorites from the ice of Antarctica.  

    Explore the line chart at the bottom of the data visualization.

Instructions to interact with the data visualization:

  • Click on or click-and-drag on any data view of this data visualization to highlight and filter data in the rest of views
  • Click-and-drag on the map to select meteorites and check their mass, type and year when they fall on Earth.
  • To unselect, click again on any empty place of the view you did select before.
  • Hover the mouse over any circle on the map, bar on the bar charts and point of the line chart to get additional information
  • Use the tool bar at the left-top corner of the map that show up while hovering on the map to zoom in/out to an specific geographic area.
  • To see the Antarctica, pan-up the map by holding left-button of the mouse on the map for a second, drag up and release it.
  • Use the tool bar at the bottom-center beneath the datavisualization to export data, image, crosstab or get a pdf from the dashboard. Rever All will allows you to restablish the data visualization to the original state. 
  • Feel free to interact, explore and ask questions playing with the data visualization

As always your feedback and comments are appreciated.

P.S. The data visualization in this article was picked as Tableau Public Visualization of the Day on February 20th, 2013. 

Every Recorded Meteorite Impact on Earth selected as Top 5 Vizzes of 2013 Winner


Kelly's picture

Beautiful viz Ramon.  Nicely laid out, great use of color, and I love the trend chart at the bottom.  I like how detailed the map tooltip is as well.  

martiner's picture

Thank you so much Kelly for your comment

Victor Blær's picture

That is some classy work Ramon, thank you for the inspiration!

Adam's picture

Is there any estimate as to how many meteorite impacts are in the ocean?

Ben Jones's picture

I believe this is at both informative, and well designed.  It answers some basic questions about meteorites (how many per year? Where are they observed? How big are they?) and suggests a few others (Why the spikes in 1979 and '88?  What's the story behind the observations in 1937? What to the categories mean?).  I feel like the color choice is very appropriate, as is the choice of the "dark map".  Again, nice work Ramon!

Charles Weber's picture

I suspect that you will find interesting a hypothesis that most of the large lava flows on Earth and Mars result from disruption of the crust at the antipode (opposite side of a sphere) from a huge meteorite impact. You may see it discussed in and in the journal article for Earth and for Mars.
The chance that there would be a lava flow at the antipode of each of the large known meteorite impact sites of the same age by sheer coincidence is extremely small. You may see statistics on the incidence of meteorite impacts of various sizes in , scroll down, and views of large meteorite craters in .
Sincerely, Charles Weber
PS You may see a discussion of the antipode effect when a meteorite strikes at an angle in

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