Desert glass was a popular decorative material. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Claire H.
Scientists have finally determined the origins of a mysterious yellow glass found in the African desert.
Prized for its deep yellow color and used in ancient Egypt to make jewellery and other ornaments, this unusual desert glass is naturally occurring across the sand dunes of eastern Libya and western Egypt.
Scientists have long struggled to determine whether the glass, which is believed to date back 29 million years, formed during a meteorite impact or as the result of an airburst - a phenomenon that occurs when an object explodes and releases energy into the Earth's atmosphere.
Now though, in a new study, geologist and planetary scientist Aaron Cavosie from Curtin University in Australia has found convincing new evidence to support the meteorite impact hypothesis.
By analyzing small grains of zircon found embedded within the glass, Cavosie was able to find traces of reidite - a type of mineral that happens to only form at high pressure during meteorite impacts.
"Both meteorite impacts and airbursts can cause melting, however, only meteorite impacts create shock waves that form high-pressure minerals," he said.
"So finding evidence of former reidite confirms it was created as the result of a meteorite impact."
Source: Science Alert | Comments (3)