The term "Tektite" was first coined by F.E. Seuss, an Austrian geologist, in 1900, from the Greek word tektos meaning molten. They are found scattered about the surface of the Earth in many localities called "strewn fields." Georgia tektites, or "Georgiaites," are part of the North American strewn field.
A tektite is a high-silica glassy object that can range in size from the microscopic to weights of many kilograms. They generally have aerodynamically formed shapes like buttons, teardrops and dumbbells. In some ways, tektites resemble obsidian glasses that are formed from volcanic activity here on earth. However, tektites are special in that they contain about 1000 times less water than obsidian, exhibit a low alkali content, and contain different types of iron and materials than normal terrestrial glass.
There have been several theories as to the origin of tektites that range from: a glassy variety of meteorite, lunar volcanoes, meteoroid impacts on the moon, and large meteoroid impacts on the Earth. Other ideas followed, and some investigators changed their minds several times, but the generally accepted theory is that tektites are created as a result of high-energy meteoroid impacts that melt the surrounding earth to form these special glasses. Because of the multitude of origin theories surrounding tektites, Henry Faul, a respected geo-chemist, was quoted as saying "...tektites are probably the most frustrating stones ever found on Earth."
The term "Georgiaite" was first coined by Thomas E. Allen of Marietta, Georgia.
Georgiaites are generally translucent and olive-green in color.
Georgiates are approximately 35.5 million years old, and rank amongst the oldest tektites on earth.
The first documented Georgiaite was in 1938, by E.P. Henderson at the Smithsonian. It was found by Dewey Horne near Empire, Georgia.
The largest, and only recorded Muong Nong type Georgiaite, was found south of Riddleville, Georgia and weighs 130g. It was found by Robert Strange of Washington County on July 31st, 1993. (The second and third largest authenticated tektites are an 86.4g specimen that is in the Fernbank Science Center and a 70.5g specimen examined by Hal Povenmire.)
The first professional field work conducted on Georgiaites was done in 1962 by E.A. King in his Ph.D. dissertation.
Hal Povenmire has conducted the most extensive study of Georgiaites since 1970, and has published his findings in his 2003 book, Tektites: A Cosmic Enigma.
The Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta has a wonderful Georgiaite collection maintained by Dr. Ed Albin. Many of the specimens were donated by Hugh H. Howard.
The Tellus Museumr in Cartersville has 9 Georgiaite specimens on display -- several of them from the Thomas E. Allen collection.
The average size of a Georgiaite is slightly less than 10g each.
It is generally accepted that Georgiaites, and other North American tektites, may have originated from the 58 mile diamater Chesapeake Bay Crater, discovered in Virgina in 1994.
Recently, Scott Harris has reported shocked quartz in a layer that can plausibly be related to the Chesapeake Bay impact and may be the elusive source of the Georgia tektites.
[Updated] The last reported tektites found were in April of 2008 by Hal Povenmire and Robert Strange in Wilcox and Turner counties. Another find has been confirmed in Bibb county. A suspected find in Sumter county has been examined and ruled out. These three new confirned counties have expanded the Georgiaite distribution area.
South Carolina Finds [New]
The North American strewn field has expanded! Georgiaites have now been found over the border in two South Carolina counties! Two tektites, one in Aiken County and the other in Allendale County, have been recovered and confirmed. These are the first tektites identified from South Carolina. Maybe we should call them Carolinaites? ;-)
Submit your Georgiaites
If you think you have found a Georgiaite, or have a picture of a Georgiaite, you can submit information and images of your speciment(s) to our
to be included on our Georgia Tektites page. Please include the Georgia County, weight, and dimentions of your specimen.
Resources & References
This information was compiled from the following sources: