Scientists have been searching for the origins of Libyan desert glass and how it formed and survived through all these years. Many studies have been conducted without any definitive proof of how it came to be.
Some suggested that it formed during meteorite impact while others say it could have been due to a massive object burning through the Earth's atmosphere. Now, there is a study that might be able to confirm one of those hypotheses.
Our research, published in the journal Geology, reports the first evidence of high-pressure damage, showing the glass formed during a meteorite impact. The new “smoking gun” for understanding the origin of the Libyan desert glass is evidence of an unusual mineral called reidite. Reidite only forms during a meteorite impact, when atoms in the mineral zircon are forced into a tighter arrangement.
Reidite is rare and only reported from meteorite impact sites. It is found in material ejected from craters and in shocked rocks at craters. Prior studies have found evidence of former reidite within zircon from impact melt, similar to how it was identified in Libyan desert glass.
Now, this doesn't solve the entire mystery altogether though. If Libyan desert glass was produced in this way, then where is the source crater located and what has happened to it? More research needs to be conducted on the matter. This is just a possible piece of the puzzle.
(Image credit: H. Raab/Wikimedia Commons)