The Gemstone that Fell to Earth
Millions of years ago, a meteorite is seen streaking through the night sky. The impact would be enormous, felt for miles around. The meteor and surrounding area would have instantly vaporized, leaving nothing behind. The gases from this event would enter the atmosphere and become solid, returning to the Earth in a harsh, glassy rain. From this ancient impact comes Moldavite, a unique bottle green gem that only comes from the Moldau River Valley of the Czech Republic.
Where Does Moldavite Come From?
The meteor impact responsible for creating Moldavite is believed to have occurred around 15 million years ago. The strike fell near the Moldau River Valley of the Czech Republic.
Records indicate that Moldavite was first recognized in 1787 when reports of its discovery were published. It takes its name for the old German word for the nearby river, the Moldau River. Locals still refer to this green gem as vltavin, which is in honor of the Czech name for the same river, the Vltava River.
This extraterrestrial stone occurs across two small areas of Southern Czechoslovakia known as Bohemia and Moravia. The estimated original impact site is about 120 miles away to the southwest and is known as Ries Kessel. It is a crater that dates back to the Miocene Age.
The Glass Bottle Controversy
During the 18th and 19th centuries, there was much debate around the origin of these bottle green stones. Back then, scholars referred to them as bouteillensteine, which means “bottle stone.” It is a direct reference to the unique and transparent green color for which Moldavite is known.
Many scholars debated the origin of the strange green gems, and by the early 1900s, the term tektite was coined to describe the material. Around this time, it became more accepted that tektites were meteoric glass.
Despite the evidence, there was still extreme controversy around the origin of Moldavite. But why? By absolute coincidence, this green stone occurs in a part of the world also known for early glass making! Further analysis shows that the temperatures for Moldavite to form are much higher than those used in most early glass making. Also, natural glass making captures certain natural gasses simply not present in Moldavite, putting this question to rest.
Ready to learn more about Moldavite? Be sure to visit the Education Center for more!
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