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Libyan Desert Glass

Libyan Desert Glass Scarab in Pharaoh Tutankhamen's Pectoral Libyan Desert Glass, also known as Great Sand Sea Glass, is found amid weathered debris in wind swept corridors between sand dunes of the remote Great Sand Sea on the Egyptian-Libyan frontier. Pieces ranging from minuscule particles to football sized chunks are found in a strewn field approximately 80 by 30 miles in extent. 1400 tons of Libyan Desert Glass are estimated to be scattered over the occurrence, which is now encompassed by Gilf Kebir National Park, established by the Egyptian government in 2007.

Libyan Desert Glass is composed of 97-98% silica by weight and is the most pure natural glass known. It has been fission track dated as having formed about 28.5 million years ago during the Oligocene Epoch. Libyan Desert Glass specimens are predominately yellow in color but vary in opacity from transparent to opaque with color ranging from white to yellow to green. Some specimens exhibit dark bands and swirls of brownish material.

Meteoritic origins for the glass have been long suspected and hypothesized. Recent research underpins the virtual certainty Libyan Desert Glass is similar to tektites in being impact-derived products.

Chemical analysis of Libyan Desert Glass specimens reveals a very tight chemical range for silica (97.3898.25%), aluminum oxide (1.162.26%), iron oxide (0.150.60%), and titanium dioxide (0.130.19%), which are ubiquitously distributed throughout the glass. These compounds must have also been likewise distributed in the glass precursor, as mechanical mixing and elemental diffusion in the short-lived melt were limited. A sand or sandstone composed of quartz grains coated with a mixture of kaolinite, hematite and anatase likely served as the parent material, a conclusion buttressed by the occurrence of both sand and sandstone within the local geology with the requisite mineralogy and composition. Further evidence for an impact origin includes the presence of schlieren, partly digested mineral phases such as lechatelierite (a high temperature melt of quartz) and baddeleyite (a high temperature break-down product of zircon), and the likely existence of a meteoritic component consisting of siderophile trace elements including Cobalt, Nickel and Iridium, which are significantly enriched in dark bands found in some Libyan Desert Glass Specimens.

While many Libyan Desert Glass specimens evidence wind sculpting, they differ from splash form tektites in that they show no evidence of molten state spin shaping or aerodynamic sculpting, and Libyan Desert Glass is not found in such distinctive splash form shapes as dumbbells, rods, spheres, disks, and teardrops. The lack of splash forms, coupled with the lack of a well correlated impact crater, has led some researchers to theorize Libyan Desert Glass was formed in situ as a product of radiative melting from an air burst event caused by a meteor or comet exploding in the atmosphere before impact - analogous to Trinitite, the sand-fused glass formed by the Trinity atom bomb test. One theorist has even gone so far as proposing Lybian Desert Glass evidences ancient atomic warfare, but this idea has gained little traction in the scientific community.

Archeological artifacts demonstrate that Libyan Desert Glass was known to Paleolithic humans who employed its conchoidal fracture for fashioning tools and implements. Flakes of Libyan Desert glass have been found in localized concentrations suggesting the manufacture of implements on the spot. The body of a scarab in a pectoral amongst the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb goods was artfully carved from Libyan Desert Glass over 3000 years ago.


Tektite57 - Libyan Desert Glass - $24.40
 
Tektite57 - Libyan Desert Glass Locality: Great Sand Sea, Egypt
Approximate Size: 24.1mm long x 20.4mm wide x 16.0mm thick. Please note the image at left may be larger than life to help show the fine details.
Approximate Weight: 6.1 grams

With the source now encompassed by Gilf Kebir National Park, available specimens of Libyan Desert Glass are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to source. This specimen will make a valued addition to any space rock collection.


Tektite60 - Libyan Desert Glass - $30.40
 
Tektite60 - Libyan Desert Glass Locality: Great Sand Sea, Egypt
Approximate Size: 28.7mm long x 20.3mm wide x 13.1mm thick. Please note the image at left may be larger than life to help show the fine details.
Approximate Weight: 7.6 grams

With the source now encompassed by Gilf Kebir National Park, available specimens of Libyan Desert Glass are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to source. This specimen will make a valued addition to any space rock collection.


Tektite61 - Libyan Desert Glass - $38.40
 
Tektite61 - Libyan Desert Glass Locality: Great Sand Sea, Egypt
Approximate Size: 41.0mm long x 18.0mm wide x 17.1mm thick. Please note the image at left may be larger than life to help show the fine details.
Approximate Weight: 9.6 grams

With the source now encompassed by Gilf Kebir National Park, available specimens of Libyan Desert Glass are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to source. This specimen will make a valued addition to any space rock collection.


Tektite62 - Libyan Desert Glass - $36.00
 
Tektite62 - Libyan Desert Glass Locality: Great Sand Sea, Egypt
Approximate Size: 29.4mm long x 21.6mm wide x 18.9mm thick. Please note the image at left may be larger than life to help show the fine details.
Approximate Weight: 9.0 grams

With the source now encompassed by Gilf Kebir National Park, available specimens of Libyan Desert Glass are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to source. This specimen will make a valued addition to any space rock collection.


Tektite63 - Libyan Desert Glass - $33.60
 
Tektite63 - Libyan Desert Glass Locality: Great Sand Sea, Egypt
Approximate Size: 25.4mm long x 19.9mm wide x 19.5mm thick. Please note the image at left may be larger than life to help show the fine details.
Approximate Weight: 8.4 grams

With the source now encompassed by Gilf Kebir National Park, available specimens of Libyan Desert Glass are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to source. This specimen will make a valued addition to any space rock collection.


Tektite64 - Libyan Desert Glass - $41.60
 
Tektite64 - Libyan Desert Glass Locality: Great Sand Sea, Egypt
Approximate Size: 27.6mm long x 23.0mm wide x 17.4mm thick. Please note the image at left may be larger than life to help show the fine details.
Approximate Weight: 10.4 grams

With the source now encompassed by Gilf Kebir National Park, available specimens of Libyan Desert Glass are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to source. This specimen will make a valued addition to any space rock collection.


Tektite66 - Libyan Desert Glass - $43.60
 
Tektite66 - Libyan Desert Glass Locality: Great Sand Sea, Egypt
Approximate Size: 32.1mm long x 21.2mm wide x 17.7mm thick. Please note the image at left may be larger than life to help show the fine details.
Approximate Weight: 10.9 grams

With the source now encompassed by Gilf Kebir National Park, available specimens of Libyan Desert Glass are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to source. This specimen will make a valued addition to any space rock collection.

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