How a Cosmic Catastrophe Created Moldavite: A Review of the Ries Impact Event and its Products

How a Cosmic Catastrophe Created Moldavite: A Review of the Ries Impact Event and its Products

Moldavite is a unique kind of tektite, a glassy substance that formed when a large meteorite or comet collided with Earth. The origin of moldavite is still a matter of debate and controversy among scientists. In this article, I will review some of the most prevalent and disputed theories about how moldavite was created and where it came from. I will also present my own opinion on which theory is the most convincing and realistic, based on scientific evidence and logic.

One of the earliest theories about moldavite was that it was a volcanic product, similar to obsidian. This was proposed by Josef Mayer, a professor at Prague University, who introduced moldavite to the scientific public in 1786. He called the green glass "chrysolites" and thought they were formed by volcanic eruptions.

However, this theory was soon challenged by other researchers, who noticed that moldavite had a different chemical composition and physical structure than volcanic glass. Moreover, there was no evidence of any volcanic activity in the areas where moldavite was found.

Another theory that was popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries was that moldavite was a cosmic origin, a fragment of a glassy meteorite that fell to Earth. This was suggested by Franz Eduard Suess, an Austrian scientist who worked in Prague. He observed that moldavite had peculiar markings on its surface, similar to those on some meteorites. He also noted that moldavite had a very low water content and a high silica content, which indicated a high-temperature origin. He named the green glass "tektite", from the Greek word for "molten", and proposed that it was a special type of meteorite.

However, this theory also faced some problems. For one thing, moldavite was not homogeneous in its composition, but rather showed signs of mixing with terrestrial materials. For another, moldavite was not distributed randomly, but rather concentrated in certain areas, especially in the Czech Republic. This suggested that moldavite was not a direct product of a meteorite impact, but rather a secondary effect of a larger event.

The most widely accepted theory today is that moldavite was formed by the impact of a giant meteorite in southern Germany, about 15 million years ago. This event created the Nördlinger Ries crater, which is about 24 km in diameter, and the Steinheim crater, which is about 4 km in diameter. The impact melted the target rock and ejected it into the air, where it cooled and solidified into glassy droplets. Some of these droplets traveled hundreds of kilometers and landed in the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, and Poland. These are the moldavites we know today.

The theory that moldavite was formed by a meteorite impact in southern Germany has several pieces of evidence to support it.
One of them is that moldavite and the Ries crater have the same age, according to radiometric dating methods.
Another is that moldavite has the same chemical composition as the sedimentary rocks that were in the impact zone, especially the Upper Freshwater Molasse, which is rich in clay.
A third one is that moldavite has a shape and texture that reflect the effects of flying at high speed and entering the atmosphere, where it cooled and solidified.
A fourth one is that moldavite is found mostly in the direction and angle of the impact, which came from the southwest.

A fifth one is that the Ries impact also created other kinds of impact-related materials, such as suevite, impact breccia, and microdiamonds, which are often associated with moldavite.

However, this theory is not without its flaws and challenges.
One of them is that moldavite is not a pure impact product, but rather a mixture of extraterrestrial and terrestrial materials.
Another is that moldavite is not evenly distributed, but rather shows some gaps and clusters that are not fully explained by the impact theory.
A third one is that moldavite is not the only type of tektite, but rather belongs to a group of similar glassy materials that are found in different parts of the world and have different ages and origins.
A fourth one is that moldavite has some mysterious properties and effects that are not easily accounted for by the impact theory, such as its metaphysical and spiritual significance.

A fifth one is that the Ries impact is not the only possible source of moldavite, but rather one of several candidates that have been proposed by alternative theories.

In my opinion, the best explanation for how moldavite came to be is the theory that it was created by a meteorite impact in southern Germany about 15 million years ago. This theory can account for all the characteristics and facts that we observe about this amazing natural glass, such as its age, composition, shape, texture, and distribution. This theory is also supported by solid scientific data and methods, such as radiometric dating, chemical analysis, and impact simulations.

However, this does not mean that we have solved all the mysteries of moldavite. There are still many questions and uncertainties that remain about the details of the impact event, the formation of moldavite, and the variations among different moldavite samples. For example, we do not know exactly how the impact melted and ejected the target rock, how the molten droplets interacted with the atmosphere and the ground, and how the moldavite acquired its peculiar properties and effects. We also do not know why moldavite is not evenly distributed, but rather shows some gaps and clusters that are not fully explained by the impact theory.

Moreover, moldavite is not the only type of tektite in the world. There are three other tektite strewn fields, in Southeast Asia, Australia, and West Africa, which have different ages, compositions, and shapes than moldavite. The origin and relationship of these tektites are still debated and researched by scientists. Some of them think that they are also products of meteorite impacts, but others suggest that they have a different origin, such as volcanic eruptions, lightning strikes, or nuclear explosions.

To sum up, moldavite is a rare and beautiful natural glass that has a fascinating history. It was created by a huge meteorite that hit the Earth millions of years ago, making a big crater and a spray of melted rock. Moldavite is the only tektite that is found in Europe, and the only one that is green and transparent. It is a precious and sought-after gemstone, as well as a scientific wonder and a source of inspiration. Moldavite shows us the cosmic forces that shape our planet and our lives.

Moldavite has some amazing physical and optical properties that make it a desirable gemstone. It is hard enough to be cut and polished into different shapes and sizes. It can refract and reflect light in different ways. It is lighter than most other rocks and minerals. It has a glassy and shiny look. It breaks into smooth and curved pieces. It has very little water in it, which makes it durable and resistant to weathering and corrosion.

Moldavite also has a striking color, which varies from light green to dark green, sometimes with brownish or yellowish shades. The color of moldavite depends on several factors, such as the composition of the rock that was hit by the meteorite, the temperature and pressure of the impact, the oxidation and reduction of iron, and the exposure to sunlight and radiation. The color of moldavite can also change over time, because of natural or artificial processes. Some moldavites can become lighter or darker, depending on the environment they are kept in. Some moldavites can be improved or modified, by heating, irradiating, or coating them.

Moldavite is a rare and valuable gemstone, because it is only found in a limited area and amount. The total amount of moldavite in the world is estimated to be about 275 tons, of which about 80% is located in the Czech Republic. The rest is spread in Austria, Germany, and Poland. Moldavite is usually found in river valleys, where it was washed and carried by water. Moldavite is also found in some archaeological sites, where it was used by ancient people for various purposes.

Moldavite has been used as a material for making tools, weapons, jewelry, and art since the Stone Age. It has been found in many prehistoric and historic cultures, such as the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Celtic, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern. Moldavite has been admired for its beauty, rarity, and mystery, and has been associated with various meanings and symbols.

Moldavite has also been the subject of many myths and legends, which show how people have been intrigued and amazed by this green glass. Some of the most popular and interesting stories about moldavite are:

- Moldavite is the stone of the Holy Grail, the sacred cup that Jesus Christ used at the Last Supper and that held his blood. Some versions of the legend say that the Holy Grail was made of emerald, but it was actually moldavite. The Holy Grail was brought to Europe by the Knights of the Round Table, who failed to find it. The Holy Grail was then hidden or lost, and whoever finds it will have eternal life and divine power. This story is based on the medieval romance literature, such as the Arthurian cycle, which blended Christian and pagan elements. There is no historical or archaeological evidence for the existence of the Holy Grail or its connection to moldavite.

- Moldavite is the stone of the Star People, the alien beings who came to Earth in ancient times and who influenced human civilization. Some theories say that moldavite was brought to Earth by the Star People, who used it as a device for communication, healing, or spiritual awakening. Moldavite can help humans to communicate with the Star People, who are still watching over us and who will come back someday. This story is based on the pseudoscientific idea of ancient astronauts, which claims that aliens visited Earth in the past and interacted with humans. There is no scientific or historical evidence for the existence of the Star People or their relation to moldavite.

- Moldavite is the stone of transformation, the catalyst that can cause deep changes in oneself and in the world. Some beliefs say that moldavite has a powerful vibration that can activate and enhance one’s psychic abilities, such as intuition, clairvoyance, telepathy, and astral projection. Moldavite can also help one to heal and balance one’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. Moldavite can also help one to manifest one’s dreams and desires, by aligning one’s will with the universal flow. This story is based on the metaphysical and spiritual views of moldavite, which attribute to it various properties and effects that are not supported by science. There is no empirical or logical evidence for the existence of psychic abilities or the influence of moldavite on them.

These are just some of the many stories and interpretations that moldavite has inspired over the centuries. Moldavite is a gemstone that can spark one’s imagination and creativity, as well as one’s curiosity and knowledge.

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