Small stones fill big gap
11 April 2011
RAMM has just acquired six Australite tektites. What? You might well ask.
Tektites (from Greek tektos – molten) are dark glassy objects that are believed to have been melted from the earth’s crust by major meteorite impacts and thrown up into a suborbital trajectory from which they subsequently fell back to earth.
There are four ‘strewn fields’ of tektites; three are associated with known meteorite craters, but the most extensive, covering parts of Indonesia and large areas of Australia, does not have a known source. The museum’s tektites are about 700,000 years old and come from the Nullarbor region of South Australia, hence the local name Australites. Two have been flaked to form tiny tools by Aborigines.
The tektites were collected and donated by Mr Brian Blakewail, a widely travelled army engineer who was based at Maralinga in South Australia in 1962. He now lives in Devon.
If you would like to find out a bit more about tektites try www.tektites.co.uk. Wikipedia gives a more technical account including the view that some tektites originate on the moon.
Two of the Australite tektites.
Left: Tektites are mainly shaped by their re-entry through the earth’s atmosphere. Right: Tektite worked by Aborigines to form a small cutting tool.