Libyan Desert Glass: Diamond-Bearing Pebble Provides Evidence of Comet Striking Earth

A mysterious black pebble found by an Egyptian geologist at the Libyan Desert Glass strewnfield provides the first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding.

This image shows Tutankhamun’s pectoral with a scarab carved from the Libyan Desert Glass. Image credit: Jon Bodsworth.

The comet entered the atmosphere above Egypt about 28.5 million years ago. It exploded, heating up the sand beneath it to a temperature of about 2,000 degrees Celsius, and resulting in the formation of a huge amount of yellow silica glass, called the Libyan Desert Glass.

A magnificent specimen of the Libyan Desert Glass, polished by ancient jewelers, is found in Tutankhamun’s brooch with its striking yellow-brown scarab.

Prof Jan Kramers from the University of Johannesburg, a lead author of the paper published online in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and his co-authors analyzed the diamond-bearing pebble ‘Hypatia,’ named in honor of the first well known female mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, Hypatia of Alexandria.

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