A meteorite weighing over 30 tons — the second-largest ever found — has been uncovered in Chaco, Argentina. “Although we hoped for weights above what had been registered, we did not expect it to exceed 30 tons,” Mario Vesconi, president of the Astronomy Association of Chaco, told reporters. "The size and weight surprised us.”

The meteorite was discovered late last week in the town of Gancedo, located in an area known as Campo del Cielo or "Field of Heaven." Between 4,200 to 4,700 years ago, the region was hit with a powerful meteor shower that inundated the landscape with an estimated 100 tons of space debris. Since the 19th century, scientists have flocked to the area, uncovering fragments as small as a few milligrams to some the size of a washing machine. Video from the scene shows local crews lifting the giant rock out of the sandy soil. According to one commenter on Reddit, conditions at the site made digging a rather time-consuming affair.

"These guys were dealing with some pretty shallow layers of subsoil water, so they were afraid their findings might be flooded while digging," they wrote. "When they found this meteorite, what was predicted began to happen, water was pouring over their finding. So the town of Gancedo lend them machinery to deal with those currents, and that's the reason they named the meteorite 'Gancedo'."

According to some estimates, the meteorite may be worth as much as $10-$12 million. In an effort to outrace looters, Vesconi told La Nacion his research team will stay on site to search for other meteorites similar in size to Gancedo. "We want to move forward because there are many more still to take," he said.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

30-ton meteorite uncovered in Argentina
Alien rock, the second-largest ever discovered, likely fell over 4,000 years ago as part of a massive meteor.