Impact glasses from Belize represent tektites from the Pleistocene Pantasma impact crater in Nicaragua

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  • Pierre Rochette
  • Pierre Beck
  • Bizzarro, Martin
  • Regis Braucher
  • Jean Cornec
  • Vinciane Debaille
  • Bertrand Devouard
  • Jerome Gattacceca
  • Fred Jourdan
  • Fabien Moustard
  • Frederic Moynier
  • Sebastien Nomade
  • Bruno Reynard

Impact glasses discovered in Belize originate from the Pantasma impact crater in Nicaragua 530 km away and probably represent a tektite strewn-field, according to geochemical analyses and isotope geochronology.

Tektites are terrestrial impact-generated glasses that are ejected long distance (up to 11,000 km), share unique characteristics and have a poorly understood formation process. Only four tektite strewn-fields are known, and three of them are sourced from known impact craters. Here we show that the recently discovered Pantasma impact crater (14 km diameter) in Nicaragua is the source of an impact glass strewn-field documented in Belize 530 km away. Their cogenesis is documented by coincidental ages, at 804 +/- 9 ka, as well as consistent elemental compositions and isotopic ratios. The Belize impact glass share many characteristics with known tektites but also present several peculiar features. We propose that these glasses represent a previously unrecognized tektite strewn-field. These discoveries shed new light on the tektite formation process, which may be more common than previously claimed, as most known Pleistocene >10 km diameter cratering events have generated tektites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number94
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Issue number1
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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