A review of volatile compounds in tektites, and carbon content and isotopic composition of moldavite glass


Corresponding author. E-mail: zak@gli.cas.cz


Abstract– Tektites, natural silica-rich glasses produced during impact events, commonly contain bubbles. The paper reviews published data on pressure and composition of a gas phase contained in the tektite bubbles and data on other volatile compounds which can be released from tektites by either high-temperature melting or by crushing or milling under vacuum. Gas extraction from tektites using high-temperature melting generally produced higher gas yield and different gas composition than the low-temperature extraction using crushing or milling under vacuum. The high-temperature extraction obviously releases volatiles not only from the bubbles, but also volatile compounds contained directly in the glass. Moreover, the gas composition can be modified by reactions between the released gases and the glass melt. Published data indicate that besides CO2 and/or CO in the bubbles, another carbon reservoir is present directly in the tektite glass. To clarify the problem of carbon content and carbon isotopic composition of the tektite glass, three samples from the Central European tektite strewn field—moldavites—were analyzed. The samples contained only 35–41 ppm C with δ13C values in the range from −28.5 to −29.9‰ VPDB. This indicates that terrestrial organic matter was a dominant carbon source during moldavite formation.