Nördlinger Ries

meteorite impact crater in Bavaria, Germany

The Nördlinger Ries is an impact crater caused by a meteorite.[1] It is a large circular depression in western Bavaria and eastern Baden-Württemberg.

Nördlinger Ries
Relief map of Nördlinger Ries
Impact crater/structure
Diameter24 km (15 mi)
Age14.808 ± 0.038 mya, Middle Miocene
Bolide typeAchondrite
Coordinates48°53′N 10°34′E / 48.883°N 10.567°E / 48.883; 10.567
StateBavaria and Baden-Württemberg
Nördlinger Ries is located in Germany
Nördlinger Ries
Position of the crater in Germany

It is north of the Danube in the district of Donau-Ries. The city of Nördlingen is in the depression, about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) south-west of its centre.

The depression is a meteorite impact crater formed 14.808 ± 0.038 million years ago in the Miocene.[2] The crater is most commonly referred to simply as Ries crater or the Ries.

The original crater rim had an estimated diameter of 24 km (15 mi). The present floor of the depression is about 100 to 150 m (330 to 490 ft) below the eroded remains of the rim.

It was originally assumed that the Ries was of volcanic origin. In 1960 Eugene Shoemaker and Edward C.T. Chao showed that the depression was caused by meteorite impact.[3]

Stone buildings in Nördlingen contain millions of tiny diamonds, all less than 0.2 mm (0.008 in) across. The impact that caused the Nördlinger Ries crater created an estimated 72,000 tonnes (72,000,000 kg) of them when it hit a local graphite deposit. Stone from this area was quarried and used for the local buildings.[4]


  1. J. Baier: Geohistorische Bemerkungen zur Suevit-Forschung (Ries-Impakt). Geohistorische Blätter, 31(1/2), Berlin 2020.
  2. Schwarz, Winfried H.; Hanel, Michael; Trieloff, Mario (February 2020). "U‐Pb dating of zircons from an impact melt of the Nördlinger Ries crater". Meteoritics & Planetary Science. 55 (2): 312–325. Bibcode:2020M&PS...55..312S. doi:10.1111/maps.13437. ISSN 1086-9379. S2CID 214304156.
  3. Shoemaker, EM; Chao, ECT (1961). "New evidence for the impact origin of the Ries basin, Bavaria, Germany". J. Geophys. Res. 66 (10): 3371–3378. Bibcode:1961JGR....66.3371S. doi:10.1029/JZ066i010p03371.
  4. Emsley, John (2001). Nature's Building Blocks. Oxford University Press. p. 99. ISBN 0-19-850341-5.