Edeowie Glass Revisited

I do not usually watch the programs on television about alien from the past that have landed on Earth. But I was changing channels recently and found myself at one of those programs. After just a few minutes I had heard several wrong statements and enough bad conclusions drawn from unrelated facts to last me a few more years. But, there was mention of places where glass is found on the surface of the ground and that the areas are radioactive. The program’s speakers; the alien investigators must assume we believe what they say and present their dubious information as fact often disguised as clever questions. Are there radioactive areas on the Earth that have glass which is the result of great battles with atomic weapons fought by aliens in the far distant past? I don’t know if there are such places that are radioactive. But, there is one place that is and that is the Trinity Atomic Bomb Test Site. Many years ago I selected a piece of trinitite from a group of choices using a Geiger counter. So I have a rather active piece.

This is a specimen of Trinitite from the first atomic bomb test. As can be seen it is rather smooth on the top side. It remains slightly radioactive. Pictures of the area after the blast show a surface covered with small clumps of trinitite not a continuous layer. This writer sees the heat pulling the surface material together into clumps that provided some insulation to the deeper sand. The poor fusing except on the surface testifies to what we know from observing the event that the extreme heat was short lived.

So far nothing I have written has anything to do with meteorites or tektites or impacts but I am getting there I promise. Seeing that TV program got me thinking again about the pieces of Edeowie Glass that I have. With an estimated age of 700,000 years I figured they would have no radioactivity. But I would give them a test nevertheless. We know that Libyan Desert Glass is most likely from an air-burst explosion that melted the sand of the Egyptian desert. Most indications point to the same type source event for Edeowie glass. However, Edeowie Glass looks much more like Trinitite than LDG. The first thought is that there was less heat and a different type soil. The adhering bits of native rock and much different texture on the bottom do speak to a different melting event. With that in mind nothing we know of fits the evidence for Edeowie Glass as well as melting by a cosmic body hitting the atmosphere. There is no visible crater in the area of Australia where Edeowie Glass is found. But, after the amount of time since formation much of a surface feature could have been eroded away.

This group of Edeowie Glass specimens offers a good idea of the nature of the glass. It is a little thicker than most specimens of Trinitite. It is slightly better melted but still not well fused. The edges that appear to be broken surfaces often show with closer examination that they are smoothed and heat polished. This suggests that they like Trinitite they shrunk as they formed and may not have been a continuous layer of glass.

Edeowie Glass is often found resting on small outcrops of what is described as burned soil. The glass is found in a small area which speaks against its origin from mechanisms such as lightning. In an area of similar terrain there would be no reason to think that lightning would only strike and form glass in one small area. Edeowie Glass is also never found as tubular specimens which is quite characteristic for fulgurites. Years ago I wrote on Edeowie Glass soon after getting some specimens and much of this is a repeat for those who have read that article. What is still striking to me is the similarity of Edeowie Glass to the atomic bomb glass from New Mexico.

Just below the surface of both glasses there is a bubbly interior as seen in these photos. On both types of glass there are tiny pinholes on the surface from bubbles that popped just before the material cooled to a state too hard for any more gas to break the surface. The Edeowie Glass does show some flowing that is not as common with Trinitite. Again brief heating and poor fusing with no time for the glass to become homogeneous is indicated for both types.

The bottom side of pieces of both glasses are poorly melted and often have adhering small pebbles. In my tests for radioactivity I found that the top melted surface of my specimen had much more activity than the bottom side. As expected the Edeowie Glass showed no activity at all. When I say that my specimen of Trinitite is active it should be pointed out that it is still not very radioactive. With the shield removed so the Geiger tubes are as exposed as possible the particle counts per 30 second integration averaged 229.78 from the top of the specimen. Background in my office is 15.9 counts with the same length of time with the tubes unshielded. With the Geiger tubes shielded the background count is 11.9 particles. So it would seem that I have a few particles that do not penetrate the shield and may be from sources in my office and not cosmic ray in origin. The Edeowie Glass was dead radioactively speaking. It yielded a count of 15.875 instead of 15.9 which was background. Longer runs than 10 samplings might close that to exactly background instead of the tiny bit less. As I mentioned earlier the radioactivity of the Trinitite is far less from top to bottom. The specimen giving off 229.78 counts from the top gave off only 88 particle counts in a 30 second interval from the bottom.

It seems that every meteorite fall that gets much publicity will have buried in the reporting something about a police officer or some official testing the meteorites for radioactivity. I did not expect to find any activity after 700,000 years. Was there any originally? I don’t personally see why there would be. Nothing in the meteorite or comet would be radioactive the way an atomic bomb is. And I think even alien investigators would admit that 700,000 years ago is too long for most of their wild alien encounter theories.

Fortunately, we have not experienced a meteorite air-burst that melted the soil into glass. Chelyabinsk did great devastation but the air-burst was high in the atmosphere. The Tunguska event in 1908 happened in such a remote area that it took nearly two decades to mount an expedition. Yet there were reports of tremendous heat. The extent of the trees that were burned reinforces the fact that there was great heat. Was there enough to melt soil if the place had not been a wet forest and bog? I do not know. If the same event happen in a desert would there have been melted glass?

Looking at the glass from several impact events I still see a grading of quality. Fine glass like that from the LDG event, to good glass like Darwin and some of the Zhamanshin glass, down to poorer quality glass like perhaps Edeowie Glass. Impact events have so many factors that can change what products are produced. It takes a better scientist then I to try and predict what quality glass will result from a certain soil and a certain size impactor with a certain speed hitting at a certain angle or air bursting at a certain altitude. What is easier to get hold of is that there will be great heat and sometimes glasses are formed. Edeowie Glass has plenty of evidence in its favor pointing to a cosmic body explosion origin. But, it seems possible that it may have formed in an event that delivered energy to the ground only as strong as that which happened at the Trinity Atomic Bomb Site. Only completely melting the top of a piece and fusing the soil and pebbles to this top layer. There are pieces of Edeowie Glass that are reported to preserve impressions of plant material and holes from tree trunks. My first thoughts are that the event was short in duration and very localized and larger than Trinity. But I doubt it was from an alien atomic weapon 7000 centuries ago.

About the Author

James Tobin
The Meteorite Exchange, Inc. was born in 1996 with meteorite.com and Meteorite Times Magazine in 2002. Still enthusiastic about meteorites and all things related to them, we hunt, collect, cut and prepare specimens. We travel to gem shows and enjoy meteorites as much now as in the beginning. Please feel free to share any comments you have on this or any of our other sites.
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