An examination of data collected over the last 30 years indicates that the percent of glass fragments vs. whole splash forms in the Cenozoic microtektite strewn fields increases towards the source crater (or source region). We propose that this is due to thermal stress produced when tektites and larger microtektites fall into water near the source crater while still relatively hot (>1150 ??C). We also find evidence (low major oxide totals, frothing when melted) for hydration of most of the North American tektite fragments and microtektites found in marine sediments. High-temperature mass spectrometry indicates that these tektite fragments and microtektites contain up to 3.8 wt% H2O. The H2O-release behavior during the high-temperature mass-spectrometric analysis, plus high Cl abundances (???0.05 wt%), indicate that the North. American tektite fragments and microtektites were hydrated in the marine environment (i.e., the H2O was not trapped solely on quenching from a melt). The younger Ivory Coast and Australasian microtektites do not exhibit much evidence of hydration (at least not in excess of 0.5 wt% H2O); this suggests that the degree of hydration increases with age. In addition, we find that some glass spherules (with <65 wt% SiO2) from the upper Eocene clinopyroxene-bearing spherule layer in the Indian Ocean have palagonitized rims. These spherules appear to have been altered in a similar fashion to the splash form K/T boundary spherules. Thus, our data indicate that tektites and microtektites that generally contain >65 wt% SiO2 can undergo simple hydration in the marine environment, while impact glasses (with <65 wt% SiO2) can also undergo palagonitization.
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Fragmentation and hydration of tektites and microtektites