Tektites and Impactites main content.

Tektites and Impactites

During a large meteorite impact, the ground and the object are trying to occupy the same space instantaneously. It’s an explosion at that point, leaving a crater and lots of other evidence. The force of the impact is so strong that some parts of the earth’s surface are not just cast into the air but are heated into molten rock that behaves like liquid glass. As droplets of the melt fly through the atmosphere, they are swiftly quenched into solids, often retaining their droplet form. The Museum has hundreds of these specimens, ranging in scale from mere millimeters to the size of a human fist. "Impactites" refer generally to materials that have been produced by meteorite impacts, including melted rocks, shocked minerals, shatter cones, and flaegle. Samples of rock containing spherule layers from giant impacts like Chicxulub (66 million years ago) and Chesapeake Bay (35.5 Ma) are also in the collection.

Tektites are "splash droplets" from major meteorite impacts on the Earth. Some of the most prized tektites are the unique bottle-glass green Moldavites from the Czech Republic, which were formed by a massive impact 15 million years ago in what is now Germany. The impact, which left the 16-mile-wide Ries crater, scattered bright green glass droplets across Eastern Europe. This spread is what geologists call a ‘strewn field,’ which can cover hundreds and even thousands of miles.

< PLACEHOLDER: Link to tektite database >