[meteorite-list] THEORIES OF THE ORIGIN OF TEKTITES, Part Four
From: Sterling K. Webb <sterling_k_webb_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sat Feb 18 02:04:54 2006
Here's Part Four of
THEORIES OF THE ORIGIN OF TEKTITES
12. The Theory that Tektites are Lunaites, or Lunar Meteorites. First
advanced by Nininger in 1940, this theory enjoyed renewed popularity in the
1960's, being supported at one time or another by Chapman, Adams, Huffaker,
O'Keefe, and Kuiper. But analysis of the actual rocks brought back from the
Moon killed this theory outright.
13. The Theory that Tektites are Ejecta from Lunar Volcanoes. First proposed
by Verbeck in 1897, revived by Linck in 1928, and again by John O'Keefe in
1976. O'Keefe derived them from deep layers in the Moon that we haven't
sampled yet, jetted out by cold hydrogen volcanoes at lunar escape
velocities or above.
14. The Theory that Tektites Are The Residue of A Former "Ring" Around the
Earth in Eocene Times. John O'Keefe, 1985. The Eocene tektites of North
America would be the result of the primary decay of such a "ring," followed
by subsequent decays, up to the final decay of the ring in the form of the
Australo-Asian tektite strewn field. Please note that this is a variation of
No. 9 (above) since the "ring" is composed of tektite material and its
disappearance explains why no more tektite material falls to Earth.
O'Keefe's "Ring" hypothesis derives from his earlier proposal (1961) of
tektites derived from Cyrillid objects, or captured objects in decaying
Earth orbit (his really brilliant analysis of the Chant Trace meteors,
1911). There is nothing impossible (or even unusual) about the notion that
the Earth may have once or often had a small satellite in decaying close
orbit that was disrupted to form a "ring" which would certainly subsequently
decay away. Rings are part of the normal Solar System paraphernalia, after
all. It's a perfectly reasonable proposal, simply a very hard one to prove
or find evidence for. There is a Canadian scientist still pushing the ring
hypothesis in a somewhat baffling way on the internet.
15. The Theory that Tektites are Residues from Solar Prominences: Himpel,
1938. This notion was advanced to explain the Ice Ages (which it doesn't).
Tektites are not solar in composition, hence this is basically just a whacky
16. The Theory that Tektites are Interstellar in Origin: Krause, 1898, and
Kohman, 1958. This theory would explain the uniqueness of tektites by
pushing them right out of the Solar System altogether, but the lack of CRE
(cosmic ray exposure) in tektites argues rather strongly against this idea.
Had enough? McCall quotes Dr. George Seddon as remarking to him "Before
hearing you lecture I thought tektites were quite incredible; now, I know
they are impossible!"
The fact that we currently have a "consensus" view on the origin of tektites
in terrestrial impacts does not really mean the problem is solved. We had a
consensus view that they were volcanic for a century or so, too, but, as A.
S. Woodward said in 1894, "Where they come from, no one knows."
Some factors and basic tektite facts to bear in mind while evaluating the
validity of various tektite origin theories:
Continued in Part Five (tomorrow or the next day)
Sterling K. Webb
Received on Sat 18 Feb 2006 02:04:50 AM PST