Endocrine Abstracts (2015) 38 SE1.4 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.38.SE1.4

A crackpot ejection theory about China's unique natural glass

David C Anderson



An interest in art and antiques and a chance discovery in Hong Kong in 2000 led rapidly to an obsession with carvings from Northern China’s 5000 year old Hongshan Culture. The most controversial are in a unique silica glass (‘shui jing’), with a very high melting temperature (>1600 °C) and no additives or stabilisers, that could only have originated from a large unique meteorite impact. This paper will present results on the carvings of light microscopy coupled with persistent pestering of friendly and well-equipped materials scientists. The study crosses many boundaries – art, culture, history, meteorology, geology, minerals science and exploration – all of little obvious relevance to medicine or endocrinology. Obviously retirement provides opportunities not open to anyone who still has to work for a living. I shall present evidence from the carvings that points to a unique post-impact lateral ejection of molten glass; and that this was later carved by grinding using impact diamond sand. We undertook three expeditions to Inner Mongolia, in 2010, 2011 and 2015. In the first two we visited a Google Unearthed candidate impact site, and in the third tried to locate the mine in the predicted splash field where large amounts of such glass are still being excavated. This mine should be a strong pointer to the location and age of the impact itself, but is shrouded in secrecy possibly for fear of a conflict between business and scientific interests; locating it is a race against time. Our candidate impact site itself lies in the Abag-qi volcanic field, with postulated secondary ‘crackpot’ volcanism from enormous pressures upon impact. For ongoing work I am fortunate to have the support of colleagues at the Institute of Geological Sciences in Beijing.

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