The energy content of impacting meteorites is larger than the energy required to melt or even vaporize the projectile completely. While about half of this energy goes toward opening the crater, the remaining energy stays in the impactor and ultimately disperses it into tiny droplets of molten iron — as occurred at Barringer Meteorite Crater in Arizona — or even as rock vapor.
In 1900, Daniel Moreau Barringer first investigated the site eventually named in his honor as a potential source for the nickel-iron he believed was buried beneath the crater floor. Despite vigorous attempts to locate the supposed mass of iron, none was ever found. Finally, in 1946, meteoriticist Henry H. Nininger recognized that small pieces of iron scattered outside the crater were all that remained of the projectile. — Jay Melosh, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana