In 1908, a sudden explosion flattened 2,000 square kilometers of Siberian forest, destroying 80 million trees. One hundred and twelve years later the exact cause remains a mystery.
The Tunguska event is one of the most speculated-about anomalous events of all-time and, while scientists firmly believe that a meteor exploding some 5 to 10 kilometers above the Earth’s surface is to blame, they don’t have any direct evidence. This has led to the usual sort of wild and baseless (although extremely fun) speculation involving everything from aliens to secret weapons tests.
Scientists from four major Russian scientific institutes—the Novosibirsk Institute of Nuclear Physics, Novosibirsk Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Tunguska Nature Reserve, and Krasnoyarsk Biophysics Institute—are now hoping to solve the Tunguska mystery once and for all. Dr. Arthur Meidus, deputy director of the Tunguska Nature Reserve, says:
“The mystery of the Tunguska Catastrophe worries both the scientists and the public. The meteorite is not here as a physical body, but the traces of the extremely powerful explosion are, which is what is currently studied by researchers. Many of us still hope to unravel the scenario of 1908 disaster.”
The general consensus is that a meteor caused the Tunguska explosion, but scientists have yet to find hard evidence.
To do this, the scientists are looking at the bottom of a lake. The sediments at the bottom of Lake Zapovednoye, approximately 40km away from the assumed epicenter of the blast, may contain evidence of a meteor explosion—if, in fact, one occurred. Dr. Meidus says:
“Although this lake is outside the territory that was affected in 1908, it is of great interest. It is deep, and silty sediments that have accumulated here, do not mix, or subside.
Spring-autumn waste waters and the Lakura River brought traces of the Tunguska catastrophe to this lake, because the event was accompanied by massive wildfires and emissions of both planet and space origin.”
Using fun science words like X-ray fluorescence and synchrotron radiation, the scientists hope to be able to detect particles of extraterrestrial origin in the layers of sediment that date to the Tunguska event. Dr. Meidus says they have already been able to determine which layers come from the year of the blast….READ MORE
Martin comments: I still like the surprisingly plausible theory that it was a crippled alien spacecraft that exploded, as per Kazantsev’s theory and presented in the book The Fire Came By which makes a pretty compelling case. Whatever caused this devastation, it would be great to see a solution to the mystery brought closer.