Book Review : Tektites


Before reading this book, the name ‘tektite’ had no real meaning; I vaguely remember some mention of it at Geology Summer School, one of those scientific mysteries. The Collins Dictionary of Geology gives the following somewhat obscure description: “a small rounded mass consisting almost entirely of glass.” Now if your curiosity is aroused and you need to find out more, then this is a book that must be read, why should that be?

The author has over the last sixteen years devoted his time and energy to investigating and collecting samples, information and photographs from around the world. His sources are the scientists both professional and amateur, who like himself have felt the need to investigate and explain the origin of tektites.
This book is a record of that investigation and since the first written account was made in China in 950 AD, there has been an awful lot of investigating done. Forget dry scientific text books giving facts and figures and very little else, this book is more a journey, a tour around the tektite world. It’s easy reading, difficult to put down and always interesting. It starts by detailing the 150 years of tektite theories, from which four important ones have emerged:

• Tektites are a rare product of lunar volcanism.
• Tektites originate on the Moon.
• Tektites are meteorites or part of them.
• Tektites are impact glasses.

The author discusses these theories, discounting each in turn to leave the reader with what is now considered to be the true source of these unique glassy objects.

What is that theory: tektites are only found after an asteroid impacts on the Earth’s surface, but that alone is not sufficient to produce tektites. A very unique set of criteria must be met before this rare event occurs. To the best of our knowledge this has only occurred four times in the last 35 million years. Which means tektites have only been found in four locations around the world. Known as strewn fields these locations cover vast areas, the largest being a few thousand kilometres across, and they are

• Australasian Strewn Field.
• North-America Strewn Field.
• Ivory Coast Strewn Field.
• The smallest has no name, but could be The Central European Strewn Field.

To find out more you must read the book. The author has devoted some 16 years work to developing his theory, and it should be his privilege to convey to the reader the reasoning behind it. I have done just that, and I was not disappointed. The photographs, mainly the authors own, are excellent, and his graphs and diagrams easy to understand. But above all else this book is an invaluable source of information for anyone, be it amateur, research student or accepted geologist. Its references to other sources of information on tektites are endless. I was truly captured by Guy Heinen and his quest, and I hope you will be too.

Terry Warrington BSc(Open)

Tektites and Impact Craters Links:

Impact craters:
(News of 17 Jan. 2003 - Correlation Between Meteorite and Comet Impacts and an Increase in Volcanic Activity Development)



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