Libyan Desert Glass (LDG) is a somewhat peculiar and incredibly interesting type of natural glass. This is primarily because of the glass’s high purity and homogeneity, combined with its enigmatic origin story. Libyan Desert Glass was first mentioned in 1850 but it didn’t become known, cited, investigated, and scientifically documented until its rediscovery in 1932.
Since P.A. Clayton rediscovered this unique specimen, this mysterious glass has been and continues to be the subject of numerous geological field studies and investigations.
What is Libyan Glass? Why do people collect them and what makes them so unique? I’ve got the answers to all of your questions.
Libyan Desert Glass Origin
Libyan Desert Glass is also recognized as Libyan Golden Tektite or Golden Tektite. Golden Tektites are terrestrial in origins, and the impact responsible for the big event is known to have taken place about 28.5 million years ago in the southwest corner of the Great Sea near the Libyan/Egyptian border.
The results from most of the investigations and studies led the majority of scientists to conclude the glass was most likely created through a high-temperature impact of an extraterrestrial body into a sandstone or sand layer, which caused its fusion and subsequent solidification.
You’re probably wondering what all of these scientific words and 5-dollar terminology mean. Plain and simple, a large rock hit the desert, and on impact, it created Libyan Glass.
And here is an alternative point of view but the results are the same. The absence of a nearby impact signature, like a creator, caused some scientists to believe that the melting process might have occurred due to a low-altitude explosion of an extraterrestrial body generating an airburst or thermal pulse. This event would have caused the melting of the surface and near-surface silica deposits.
Libyan Desert Glass Price
Because Libyan Desert Glass is incredibly rare, its value is on the high end. Prices can range from the hundreds up to the thousands of dollars. The value varies depending on the specimen’s size, hue, and quality. Buyers need to be very careful when purchasing these stones because individuals will melt sand and tell you they found these in the Libyan desert.
Is Libyan Desert Glass Rare?
Libyan Desert Glass is known by various names. Aside from those mentioned above, some recognize the glass as Egypt or Egyptian Desert Glass. This rare and stunning impact glass is only found in one remote location on the planet, near the border of Egypt and Libya. It’s associated with an ancient meteorite impact that happened somewhere in the North African deserts.
Libyan Desert Glass Hardness
According to the Mohs hardness scale, Libyan Desert Glass has a hardness of 5.5 to 6.
Is Libyan Desert Glass Radioactive?
Radioactivity can be found all around us, and Golden Tektites aren’t more radioactive than any common rock on Earth. Heck, it’s no more radioactive than the glass used to make windows, mirrors, or everyday household products.
Libyan Desert Glass Real vs. Fake
Unfortunately, fake Libyan Desert Glass is becoming more common as authentic or genuine Tektite values and demands increase. Aside from having a specimen tested in a certified gemological laboratory or purchasing samples from trusted sources, below you’ll find some tips on determining if your Libyan Desert Glass is genuine or a synthetic piece of yellow plastic or glass.
Real Libyan Desert Glass is ALWAYS Yellow
There is a wide array of yellow hues associated with Libyan Glass. It can be a pale or dark shade of yellow, depending on whether or not other minerals were trapped in the piece during its formation.
The higher the silica content of the melted material or glass, the lighter the color is.
However, Libyan Desert Glass encountered in any other color is a synthetic fake or an entirely different material altogether. For instance, other varieties of Tektite can be black or range from light green to a greenish-yellow hue.
Real Libyan Desert Glass Has A Matte Appearance
We must consider that Libyan Desert Glass has been naturally tumbled around the desert sands for millions of years. This produces a smooth, frosted matte luster instead of a machine-polished gloss.
Fake LDG will be too shiny and glossy.
You’ll want to take a look at the photos on the page to get a good idea of what the surface of Lybian Glass looks like. Now go find some glass in your house and start making comparisons. This really is the best way to learn how to identify fakes.
Real Libyan Desert Glass Has Value
While this isn’t a visual inspection of LDG, the price tag on a specimen can speak volumes. Considering that Libyan Desert Glass is difficult to source, if the price seems too good to be true, then it is likely a fake. However, there’s a slight possibility that someone doesn’t know the actual value, so they charge a lesser price.
Real Libyan Desert Glass Contains Air Bubbles
Like all types of glass, air bubbles are naturally trapped within Libyan Desert Glass. Take a look at your specimen under magnification, and you should see obvious air bubbles. While this inspection will not rule out man-made glass, it will eliminate any plastics or other synthetics used.
Real Libyan Desert Glass Contains Worm-Like Inclusions
Looking under a strong microscope up to 10x magnification, you should be able to see wavy inclusions, which are lechatelierite inclusions. These inclusions result from sand particles that melted during the specimen’s formation.
Real Libyan Desert Glass Offers A Velvety Texture
While this is a hard Tektite, Libyan Desert Glass produces a soft surface texture from tumbling in desert sands for many years. It shouldn’t be slick and shiny or rough and textured like Moldavite.