Mysterious glass found in desert may be from space

Originally published at: Mysterious glass found in desert may be from space | Boing Boing


Oh the purple sand beaches of Lybia when the aurora ignites the noonday skia.

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Yeah, this is Libyan Desert Glass. The crater probably was covered over by wind blown sand centuries ago. I have a piece.


It sounds as if the glass isn’t strictly “from space” (except insofar as all terrestrial matter is ultimately “from space”), but is formed when something that is from space impacts sand, releasing impressive amounts of energy.

It makes me think of trinitite, the weird quasicrystalline glass created during atomic bomb tests. If you have enough heat and pressure at work, sand can transform in remarkable ways.


Could also have been an airburst event, like Tunguska.


Or it was created by an airburst when the meteor disintegrated in the upper atmosphere (like the Chelyabinsk meteor - but much larger) and there was never a crater.

Libyan Desert Glass is the most gorgeous stone, I should get a piece for my own collection. And perhaps some tektites, and maybe a pallasite - see what you’ve done???


Seems like a lightning strike in the desert might be even more likely than a meteor strike…?



There’s far too much Libyan Desert Glass spread over too wide an area for it to be Fulgurites.

Geologists also find ‘shocked’ crystals in the area’s rocks, indicating something way heavier duty’n lightning strikes affected a large location.

It’s the scarab at the center of one of King Tutankhamon’s more famous pieces of jewelry who is LDG.

As soon as I got hip to LDG, before I even owned any, I realized it’s what the scarab is made of.

A geologist visiting the then-Cairo Museum decades after my own revelation thought the same, and somehow managed to convince the museum to arrange for tests! Turned out it is indeed Libyan Desert Glass.

Saw a scientist presenting his theory of the crater’s location on some groovy science show on either discovery or the learning channel (back when they lived up to their names), or PBS. He showed us satellite images of the area, and it sure looked like a vasty crater. I’ve heard nowt more since then; maybe his theory’s been debunked, forgotten, or neglected. He was quite old then, and sometimes some of their work is forgotten about/neglected after scientists pass away. :frowning:




granted, its a new article (november 20), here is the source for the republishing-link from @pesco;


Most scientists think LDG is an impactite, melted terrestrial sand

Moldavite, named after a “deposit” in the Moldau River valley, is glassy AF and is thought to be either a tektite or an impactite.

(via wikipedia):
It is widely argued that moldavite glass was formed 15 million years ago during the impact of a giant meteorite in present-day Nördlinger Ries. Splatters of rocks that were melted by the impact cooled while they were actually airborne and most fell in central Bohemia. The glass can be found in the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, and the Republic of Moldova.


I have some tektites. Very cool little rocks.


There was a theory that a crater known as Kebira on the Egypt/Libya border might have been the origin of the glass; but a geochemical study of the sandstone shows it has a different makeup from the glass:

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New Flat Earther type conspiracy theory deployment in 3, 2, 1 …

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it’s that thing that makes grass grow… wild…

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I understood that reference (my stupid brain gets way to easy triggered for that shit…)


There are ancient craters scattered all over the world. Not all of them have tektites associated with them; in some instances we have tektites, but the source is uncertain.

This summer I visited Canyonlands National Park. One of the geologic features there is called Upheaval Dome; it’s an irregularly shaped hole about 1/2 mile across. There have been many theories associated with how it formed, but testing finally confirmed (with the presence of shocked quartz) that it was likely a meteorite impact crater. The ranger I spoke with said they are working on updating the informational signs to reflect this. AFAIK, no tektites have been discovered in association with the crater.


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