History of Science & Technology, Including the World of Richard Feynman, and Natural History

History of Science & Technology, Including the World of Richard Feynman, and Natural History

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 3. Trinitite.


Created by the Trinity Nuclear Test in Alamagordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945

Lot Closed

December 13, 07:03 PM GMT


12,000 - 15,000 USD

Lot Details



Chihuahua Desert, Alamorgordo, New Mexico

9 pieces of Trinitite ranging in size from 44.24 x 27.87 x 37.81 mm and 25 grams to 84.63 x 25.24 x 78.17 mm and 74.5 grams. Combined weight of all specimens is 295 grams.

Trinitite is an artifact created by the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, undertaken by the US Military in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945 — the Trinity test was the final test prior to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki three weeks later. Trinitite is the result of the Trinity nuclear bomb having melted Chihuahuan Desert sand — primarily composed of quartz and feldspar —into glass. Some trinitite formed on the ground following the blast and some was liquified as it was sucked up by the fireball before raining back down to Earth as aerodynamic molten glass forms which soon solidified.

Trinitite is highly vesicular, not infrequently with a glossy surface, with voids comprising up to 30% of its volume.

While trinitite is safe to handle (in much the same way Hiroshima itself is safe and now home to more than a million inhabitants), it is frequently asked why Trinitite is safe while the ground in Chernobyl is not. Apart from what Geiger counters convey, the Trinity bomb contained only six kilograms of plutonium which was atmospherically dispersed, while the Chernobyl nuclear power plant contained 180 tons of nuclear fuel in addition to untold tons of radioactive waste. Nonetheless, the vast majority of trinitite was bulldozed and buried in 1953 as the grounds of the White Sands blast site — where non-atomic weapons testing still occurs — were being overrun with tourists hoping to acquire a bit of what is now offered: Trinitite, a historic relic of the United States having officially entered the Nuclear Age.