Formed from Meteorites!
A moment of impact captured tens of millions of years ago...
📸 A Tektite Pendant (Libyan Desert glass)
📸 A LARGE CHUNK OF LIBYAN DESERT GLASS
What is a Tektite?
Tektites are glassy rocks which were formed at the impact of a meteorite on Earth millions of years ago. When the intense heat and pressure of an impact event occurs, it fuses the surrounding sediments into a new material, which is launched into the air as molten glass and cools as it falls back to the ground.
Certain tektites such as Moldavite and Libyan Desert glass were formed during major impacts from our planet's deep history. They are beautiful pieces of the past that are stunning to behold. Brilliant greens and yellows can be found on the glossy crusts of tektites, which remind us of their explosive formation.
📸 IMAGE OF BURIAL PECTORAL FROM TREASURES OF TUTANKHAMEN, 1972
Tektites have existed on our planet for longer than our very species and early humans used them in the same was as flint or obsidian to create tools and ceremonial pieces.
Paleolithic cultures were not the only ones to use the glass either. In 1997, a minerologist named Vincenzo de Michele identified the material used in jewelry piece from King Tutankhamun's tomb as Libyan desert glass. The glass was shaped into the body of a scarab centerpiece of a pectoral.
This 18th Dynasty find is unique among the gems of ancient Egypt, as it is the only known use of Libyan desert glass. The scarab is part of a twofold representation of the sun-god, which in Egyptian mythology could be represented by both scarab and falcon.
📸 Relief map showing the impact crater of the Nördlingen Ries Basin alongside an image of the town in the crater
The Birth of a Tektite
For many years, a pastoral region of southern Germany was thought to be the remains of an ancient volcanic crater. Imagine the surprise when it was discovered that the Nördlingen Ries Basin was in fact an asteroid impact site some 14,400,000 years earlier.
In an instant, a 1.5km wide asteroid released 2.4×10^21 joules - enough energy to power the entire modern human world for more than six years. This tremendous blast gouged out hundreds of cubic kilometers of material and created a complex array of materials, from new metamorphic rocks studded with impact diamonds to stunning, green gems called Moldavite.
The medieval town of Nördlingen sits near the center of the Nördlingen Ries crater. Most of the town is built of Suevite and the "Bunte Breccia" formed during the impact, including the 15th century Georgskirche pictured here. If the town looks familiar it may be due to the fact that it served as the backdrop for the final flyover scene at the end of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971).
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