lechatelierite - ROM2004_867_8



Place Collected
Africa, Libya
Weight: 190 g; 7 x 6 x 5 cm
Object number: ROMESM47993
Credit Line: Gift of David Gregory and Family, St Thomas, Ontario in 2000. Certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act.
Not on view
DescriptionWhile this specimen is not a meteorite, it is included with the meteorite images because it was likely formed by a meteor impact. Libyan Desert Glass is intriguing material, in appearance, in chemical compostion and in its occurrence; a number of theories have been proposed to account for its high silica composition (95 to 99% silica) and its widespread distribution in the Sahara Desert in southwestern Egypt. (This area is also historically known as the Libyan Desert, for which the glass was named, even though the occurrences are in modern Egypt.) In recent years, numerous impact sites have been identified in the Desert, one of them being 30 km in diameter. Their discovery bolsters the impact origin theory, which argues that Desert Glass is the product of intense heating of quartz-rich sands or sandstones during one or more impact events. Lechatelierite is a scientific term given to this naturally occurring fused quartz; it had cooled quickly into a glass, and since glass lacks the regular crystalline structure of minerals it is technically not a mineral, but a rock. (Other examples of rocks that aren't made of minerals are coal, and obsidian which is a volcanic glass.)
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