Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 25, pp 6609–6617 | Cite as

Detection of organic compounds in impact glasses formed by the collision of an extraterrestrial material with the Libyan Desert (Africa) and Tasmania (Australia)

  • Leticia Gómez-NublaEmail author
  • Julene Aramendia
  • Silvia Fdez-Ortiz de Vallejuelo
  • Kepa Castro
  • Juan Manuel Madariaga
Research Paper


Impact glasses are rich silica melted formed at high temperature and pressure by the impact of an extraterrestrial body on Earth. Here, Libyan Desert glasses (LDGs) and Darwin glasses (DGs) were studied. Two non-destructive analytical techniques were used to detect and characterize organic compounds present in their inclusions: Raman spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy coupled to energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). Phytoliths, humboldtine, palmitic acid, myristic acid, oleic acid, 4-methyl phthalic acid, and S-H stretching vibrations of amino acids were identified. The presence of these particular organic compounds in such materials has not been reported so far, providing information about (a) the ancient matter of the area where the impact glasses were formed, (b) organic matter belonging to the extraterrestrial body which impacted on the Earth, or (c) even to current plant or bacterial life, which could indicate an active interaction of the LDG and DG with the surrounding environment. Moreover, the identification of fullerene allowed us to know a pressure (15 GPa) and temperatures (670 K or 1800–1900 K) at which samples could be subjected.


Impact glass Libyan Desert glass Darwin glass Organic compounds Raman spectroscopy 



This work has been funded by MINECO, the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and FEDER, the European Development Regional Fund, through the project ESP2014-56138-C3-2-R, as well as by the Special Action EA13/28 Funded by the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Technical and human support provided by the Raman-LASPEA Laboratory of the SGIker (UPV/EHU, MICINN, GV/EJ, ERDF and ESF) is gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2018_1266_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (193 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 193 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leticia Gómez-Nubla
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julene Aramendia
    • 1
  • Silvia Fdez-Ortiz de Vallejuelo
    • 1
  • Kepa Castro
    • 1
  • Juan Manuel Madariaga
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversity of the Basque Country UPV/EHUBilbaoSpain

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