Libyan Desert Glass: New field and Fourier transform infrared data

F. Fröhlich, G. Poupeau, A. Badou, F. X. Le Bourdonnec, Y. Sacquin, S. Dubernet, J. M. Bardintzeff, M. Véran, D. C. Smith, E. Diemer

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Results are presented of new geological observations and laboratory analyses on Libyan Desert Glass (LDG), a unique kind of impact glass found in Egypt, probably 28.5-29.4 million years in age. A new LDG occurrence has been discovered some 50 km southward of the main LDG occurrences in the Great Sand Sea. From Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis, the molecular structure of LDG is refined and significant differences are shown between LDG specimens and other pure silica glasses (fulgurite, industrial fused quartz, and amorphous biogenic silica) that are related to differences in their structures. The slight variations observed here for the mean Si-O-Si angle between the different glasses are attributed to their thermal histories. With regard to the other glasses analyzed, the LDG infrared spectral parameters point to a higher ratio of discontinuities and defects in the tetrahedral (SiO4) network. The quantitative mineralogical constitutions of sandstones and quartzites from the LDG geological setting were analyzed by FTIR. Cretaceous sandstones have a specific composition (about 90 wt% quartz, 10% dickite), clearly different from the Paleozoic ones (about 90 wt% quartz, but ≥7% kaolinite). It is shown that the reddish silts bearing the LDG are constituted mainly of microquartz enriched with dickite, whose particle size distribution is characteristic of fluvio-lacustrine deposits, probably Oligocene to Miocene in age. The target rocks, most probably quartz sand, resulted from the weathering (loss of the cementing microquartz) of the Cretaceous sandstones from the Gilf Khebir Plateau with deposition in a high-energy environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2517-2530
Number of pages14
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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