Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 107, Issue 2–4, pp 169–196 | Cite as

The Shapes of Splash-Form Tektites: Their Geometrical Analysis, Classification and Mechanics of Formation

Article

Abstract

Splash-form tektites are found with a wide range of sizes and in an intriguing array of shapes ranging from spheres to flat discs to dumbbells. Despite the considerable interest that exists in tektites, there has been relatively little effort to develop rational shape descriptors and to understand the origin of their shapes based on basic physics. Tektites represent a natural laboratory experiment that can be analyzed to better understand the physics of rotating fluid drops. In this paper, we propose a classification scheme based on the axial ratios of ellipsoids, and we analyze the frequency of tektite shapes using a database of over 1,000 measured tektites. We show that the shape distribution for tektites from Thailand and Vietnam are very similar and that the most common tektites are moderately deformed discs but there exist also a significant number of moderately deformed dumbbells, and we argue that this distribution comes about because fluid drops first deform as oblate forms and then undergo a non-axisymmetric instability to become prolate. We also find that the largest tektites are most likely to be weakly deformed oblate objects while the most strongly deformed and most highly prolate forms are considerably smaller. A numerical model for the evolution of an axisymmetric fluid drop, such as a tektite in its molten early stage, is presented which demonstrates that drops that deform relatively slowly over a longer period of time are likely to develop central thinning while those that deform more rapidly are more likely to retain the shape of an ellipsoid. For the numerical parameters used the characteristic time scale for deformation was less than 1 s.

Keywords

Tektites Splash-form Shape analysis Physics of formation 

References

  1. N. Artemieva, in Catastrophic Events Caused by Cosmic Objects, ed. by V.V. Adushkin, I.V. Nemichinov (Springer, Berlin, 2008)Google Scholar
  2. G. Baker, Am. J. Sci. 256, 369 (1958)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. G. Baker, in Tektites, ed. by J.A. O’Keefe (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1963), p. 1Google Scholar
  4. V.E. Barnes, in Tektites, ed. by J.A. O’Keefe (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1963), p. 25Google Scholar
  5. V.E. Barnes, Chem. Erde 30, 13 (1971)Google Scholar
  6. V.E. Barnes, M.A. Barnes, Tektites (Dowden, Hutchinson and Ross, Stroudsburg, 1973)Google Scholar
  7. H.O. Beyer, Philippine Tektites, Vol. 1, Part 1 (University of Philippines Publications in Natural History and Space Science, Quezon City and Manila, 1962a), pp. 132–158Google Scholar
  8. H.O. Beyer, Philippine Tektites, Vol. 1, Part 2 (University of Philippines Publications in Natural History and Space Science, Quezon City and Manila, 1962b), pp. 127–174Google Scholar
  9. R.A. Brown, L.E. Scriven, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 371, 331 (1980)CrossRefMATHADSMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  10. V. Cardoso, Physics 1, 38 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. S. Chandrasekhar, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 286, 1 (1965)CrossRefMATHADSMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  12. D.R. Chapman, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 28, 841 (1964)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  13. D.R. Chapman, H.K. Larson, J. Geophys. Res. 68, 4305 (1963)ADSGoogle Scholar
  14. D.R. Chapman, H.K. Larson, L.C. Scheiber, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 28, 821 (1964)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  15. B.O. Dressler, W.U. Reimold, Earth Sci. Rev. 56, 205 (2001)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  16. L.T. Elkins-Tanton, P. Aussillous, J. Bico, D. Quéré, J.W.M. Bush, Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 38, 1331 (2003)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  17. C. Fenner, Trans. Proc. R. Soc. S. Aust. 58, 62 (1934)Google Scholar
  18. C. Fenner, Trans. Proc. R. Soc. S. Aust. 59, 125 (1935)Google Scholar
  19. D. Flinn, Q. J. Geol. Soc. 118, 385 (1962)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. I. Friedman, Geochem. Cosmochem. Acta 14, 316 (1958)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  21. B.P. Glass, J. Non-Cryst. Solids 67(1–3), 333–344 (1984)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  22. C.J. Heine, IMA J. Numer. Anal. 26, 723 (2006)CrossRefMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  23. G. Heinen, Tektites: Witnesses of Cosmic Catastrophes, translated from German by P. Helminger. (Self-published by Guy Heinen, Luxumbourg, 1998)Google Scholar
  24. R.J. Hill, L. Eaves, Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 234501 (2008)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  25. C. Koeberl, in Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution, ed. by B.O. Dressler, R.A.F. Grieve, V.L. Sharpton (Geological Society American Special Paper 293, Boulder, 1994), p. 133Google Scholar
  26. W.C. Krumbein, J. Sed. Res. 11, 64 (1941)Google Scholar
  27. A. Lacroix, Archive de la Museé d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, series 6, 12,151 (1935)Google Scholar
  28. J. McCall, Tektites in the Geological Record: Showers of Glass from the Sky. (Geological Society of London, 2001)Google Scholar
  29. H.H. Nininger, G.I. Huss, Science 157, 61 (1967)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  30. K. McNamara, A. Bevan, Tektites, 3rd edn. (Western Australian Museum, Perth, 2001)Google Scholar
  31. J.A. O’Keefe, Tektites and their origin (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1976)Google Scholar
  32. J.A. O’Keefe, in Tektites, ed. by V.E. Barnes, M.A. Barnes (Dowden, Hutchinson and Ross, Stroudsburg, 1973)Google Scholar
  33. J.S. Reinhart, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 14, 287 (1958)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  34. C.C. Schnetzler, Meteoritics 5, 221 (1971)Google Scholar
  35. C.C. Schnetzler, Meteoritics 27, 154 (1992)ADSGoogle Scholar
  36. M. Tobak, V. L. Peterson, Theory of Tumbling Bodies Entering Planetary Atmospheres with Application to Probe Vehicles and the Australian Tektites. (NASA TR R-203, NASA, Washington, DC, 1964)Google Scholar
  37. V. Vand, In Advances in Geophyiscs, vol. 11 (Academic Press, New York, 1965)Google Scholar
  38. T.G. Wang, E.H. Trinh, A.P. Croonquist, D.D. Elleman, Phys. Rev. Lett. 56, 452 (1986)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

Personalised recommendations