The Wetumpka Impact Crater Commission is preparing for its annual lecture and tour of the crater located east of Wetumpka.

A free lecture covering the science of the crater will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 5 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Wetumpka with hourly tours of the crater beginning at 8:30 a.m. on March 7. 

The annual event gives guests a closer look at what happened to this area of Alabama when a meteor slammed into the earth 85 million years ago.

“We have been doing these tours since the late 1990s,” commission publicity chairman Marilee Tankersley said. 

There will be four sessions held in this year’s tour of the crater, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tours will also be held at 9:50 a.m., 11:10 a.m. and 1 p.m. 

The tour will begin at Trinity Episcopal Church, with guests listening to a short lecture and watching a brief video about the crater then guests will ride be driven around the crater. 

Tankersley said guests need to arrive 15 to 20 minutes before their scheduled tour time.

“We have experienced drivers and we have geology students from Auburn who participate as guides,” she said.

As each van accommodates 10 people, participation in the tour is limited to 200 guests. Registration costs are $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12, although the tour is not recommended for very small children.

Tankersley said NASA scientists have visited the crater, and a number of scientists and geologists have gone on the tour in the past and been fascinated by what they see, including how the soil at the crater changes and is different from the earth around it.

According to information provided by the commission, the crater was discovered in the mid 1970s and confirmed and registered in 1988 by Dr. David King Jr. from the Auburn University Department of Geosciences.

King’s March 5 lecture is free of charge. He will discuss how scientists determined the size and scope of the impact and provide an update on his most recent research into the area.

Because the location was covered by a shallow sea at the time of impact, scientists have declared it to be one of the best preserved marine impact craters in the world, according to the commission.

To make reservations for the tour, contact Valencia Smith at the city administration building at 334-567-5147 or send an email to vsmith@cityofwetumpka.com.