Abstract

In the history of the study of Meteor Crater, there is an interlude between its initial geologic exploration in early 1890s (finalized by the seminal publication of the volcanic model by Gilbert in 1896) and the spectacular research-prospective activity of Barringer, completed with a meteoritic concept published in 1905. Here it is shown that the period between 1896 and 1905 did not represent a conceptual stasis in solving the mystery of the Arizona crater. Popular interest in the attractive theme was promoted by known scientists, such as Crookes, Holder, and Meyer. However, it was primarily exemplified by the work of Joseph A. Munk. In unnoticed publications from 1903 to 1906, he presented Coon Mountain indubitably as a meteorite crater, along with a proposal to adopt the appropriate name of Meteorite Mountain for this natural curiosity. His proimpact geologic arguments were widely repeated in later papers. In addition, Munk was a visionary pioneer in the propagation of the geotourist attraction represented by this geologic wonder, as manifested in his well-read guidebook Arizona Sketches. Furthermore, a surprising but significant issue is the hidden stimulating role of Fred W. Volz, known hitherto as a local businessmen and meteorite dealer. Especially in the light of Munk’s publications, Volz is shown to have been an insightful observer of geologic phenomena, including a progressive revival of Gilbert’s incipient conception of a buried “stellar body” under Coon Mountain (rejected by Gilbert himself). Even if this activity can be downgraded as only popular writing, Munk and (to some degree) Volz ought to be known at least as inspiring propagators and therefore pioneers of the meteorite hypothesis regarding Meteor Crater, independently of the widely known Barringer engagement.

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