RESEARCH IDEAS

I am occasionally contacted asking if I have any ideas for tektite research. There has been a vast amount of research carried out, so what needs doing and why? Below I present a list of ideas:

1) I would like to study the Be10 content of Philippinites of different morphology. If we take oriented cores then some are globular and some are not. Some of this is a function of size, with smaller spheres being more thermodynamically stable and thus spalling less. Some, I believe, is a function of re-entry angle, with a higher re-entry angle resulting in less spalling. Theoretically those entering at a higher re-entry angle likely formed later and would thus have a slightly lower Be10 content as they would have been excavated from greater depth. It might be too subtle, but maybe worth a go.

2) I would like to see a detailed study on the trajectory of ballistic ejecta from the Australasian Impact. Something along the lines of Alvarez (1996) 'Trajectories of ballistic ejecta from the Chicxulub Crater'. OK, we don't know precisely where the crater is (we know roughly). We do have a lot of information though that can be used to model the impact and give an insight into re-entry velocities and angles. Yes, some data needs inferring, but I think you could come up with a very sensible and realistic model to explain the tektite distribution pattern and morphologies. Take Australites - we need an update of Chapman (1964) and then use these data to model back to the impact site. I reckon Australites were ejected at a low angle below 20 degrees. Take Philippinites we know they basically formed in space, with a few being distorted as they left the atmosphere - good info - we know that the largest tektites landed roughly 1,750 km from the impact site - what does this tell us - ?maybe an optimum ejection angle of 30 degrees? If we make this assumption then we have an ejection velocity. Take Indochinites, these deformed in the atmosphere, apparently never truly leaving the atmosphere and formed a more circular pattern around the impact site. We know rough distances for these plastically deformed bodies. These are more likely to have formed close to 45 degrees with a circular ejecta curtain - does this work with them being plastically deformed and remaining in the atmosphere - a broad guess can be inferred on ejection velocity. We can see a huge reduction in the energies between the distal and the proximal tektites - at some point the energies are too low to form tektites - we can calculate this and compare with field observations.

3) Any published accounts of tektite assemblages and morphologies from known localities in Indochina would be welcomed - most Indochinese tektites are muddled up and not from defined locations. Understanding the morphology at numerous locations will help pinpoint the source crater.

4) I want to see the Australasian source crater discovered - for me this involves obtaining and researching bathymetric charts of the Northern part of the Bay of Tonkin. I doubt these will reveal much as the crater is likely entirely buried by recent sediment, but maybe. Next I would like to obtain and research seismic data, although this seems an unrealistic idea as the data will be confidential oil industry data. Is the crater on land in Laos (or elsewhere in Indochina)? Well I don't reckon so as for me it goes against the proximal tektite distrubution pattern, but many do think it is. Again, more research and field expeditions needed. More data on Indochinite morphologies at specific localities need (particularly Chinese localities).

5) In the early days a lot of wind tunnel work was done to study the ablation of Australites. I would like to see similar studies done on the spallation of medial tektites, leading to a better understanding of navels and the spalling process in general. I would like to see similar studies on molten glass to demonstrate and reproduce the plastic deformation of Indochinites in the atmosphere.  I want experimentation to see if spalling or impact generates radial cracks. This is potentially expensive research, but I think a lot could be gained with controlled experiments on glass. Rather than using a wind tunnel, for Philippinites do seperate heating/cooling experiments and pressure experiments using vices to produce spalling. With Indochinites simple cascade experiments, with glass being dropped from height could be carried out. These have been done in the past, but I feel there is more to be obtained here.

6) The Indochinese impact was 0.803 Ma ago, The Zhamanshin Crater formed 0.9 Ma ago. The Belize tektites formed 0.82 Ma ago. Ivory Coast tektites formed 1.3 Ma ago. There seems to have been quite a lot of activity in this period and yet apparently nothing in the last 0.8 Ma. Random? Chance? Is there a relationship (I am not saying they occurred exactly the same time, but maybe from a related mother source/asteroid-asteroid impact event)? Are we overdue an impact? Along the same vein, in geological history there appears to be numerous examples of multiple impact event within a short geological period. It would be good to better understand these events and the causal mechanism. Does asteroid/meteorite flux vary with time? What do meteorites tell us?

 

Thanks for viewing, I'll add more ideas as I think of them. Drop me a line if you have any further thoughts.