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It has a wayward asteroid to thank.

Erika Owen
March 30, 2017

You can't necessarily see the massive number of diamonds in the Bavarian town of Nördlingen. But trust: There are 72,000 tons of microscopic diamonds dusting the buildings in the area.

They weren't put there on purpose, either. We can thank a wayward little asteroid for this incredibly strange phenomenon.

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Said asteroid hit this region of Bavaria 15 million years ago, leaving behind a nine-mile crater (at the very site of which you'll find Nördlingen). The asteroid also left suevit — rock that's made up of glass, diamonds, crystal, and other debris — in its wake.

According to a study on the distribution of these impact diamonds in Germany, the gemstones were formed because of the velocity of the collision between the asteroid and the Earth.

In an interview with The Smithsonian, geologist and deputy director of the Ries Crater Museum Gisela Pösges shared some theories on the asteroid that unintentionally decorated this lavish little town: "We assume that the asteroid was a stony one with a weight of [approximately] three billion tons." 

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Until the 1960s, many believed that the massive depression in which the town was built was actually a volcanic crater. Geologist Eugene Shoemaker eventually made the asteroid connection. But it took 10 more years before they realized that there were diamonds in the asteroid debris. 

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Now, the town has various asteroid specimens and diamonds on display. But this isn't the only town made of diamonds: You can also find suevite buildings in Berlin and Munich, according to The Smithsonian.

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